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Romain Rolland after a drawing by Granie (.1909) 








New York 



Copyright, 1921, by 

All rights reaerved 


Not merely do I describe the work of a great 
European. Above all do I pay tribute to a person- 
ality, that of one who for me and for many others 
has loomed as the most impressive moral phenom- 
enon of our age. Modelled upon his own biogra- 
phies of classical figures, endeavouring to portray 
the greatness of an artist while never losing sight 
of the man or forgetting his influence upon the 
world of moral endeavour, conceived in this spirit, 
my book is likewise inspired with a sense of per- 
sonal gratitude, in that, amid these days forlorn, it 
has been vouchsafed to me to know the miracle of 
so radiant an existence. 


of this uniqueness, I dedicate the book to those 
few who, in the hour of fiery trial, remained faith- 
ful to 









I. Introductory 1 

II. Early Childhood 3 

III. School Days 8 

IV. The Normal School 12 

V. A Message from Afar 18 

VI. Saint Louis, 1894 80 

VII. The Consecration 29 

VIII, Years of Apprenticeship 32 

IX. Years of Struggle 37 

X. A Decade of Seclusion 43 

XI. A Portrait 45 

XIL Renown 48 

XIII. Rolland as the Embodiment of the European Spirit . 52 


I. The Work and the Epoch 57 

II. The Will to Greatness 63 

III. The Creative Cycles 67 

IV. The Unknown Dramatic Cycle 71 

V. The Tragedies of Faith. Saint Louis, Aert, 1895-1898 . 76 

VI. Saint Louis. 1894 80 



VII. Aert, 1898 83 

VIII. Attempt to Regenerate the French Stage .... 86 

IX. An Appeal to the People 90 

X. The Program gi 

XL The Creative Artist 98 

XII. The Drama of the Revolution, 1898-1902 . . . .100 

XIII. The Fourteenth of July, 1902 103 

XIV. Danton, 1900 106 

XV. The Triumph of Reason, 1899 110 

XVI. The Wolves, 1898 113 

XVII. The Call Lost in the Void 117 

XVIII. A Day Will Come, 1902 119 

XIX. The Playwright 123 


I. De Profundis 133 

n. The Heroes of Suffering 137 

in. Beethoven 140 

IV. Michelangelo 144 

V. Tolstoi 147 

VI. The Unwritten Biographies 150 

I. Sanctus Christophorus 157 

II. Resurrection 160 

III. The Origin of the Work 162 

IV. The Work without a Formula 166 



V. Key to the Characters 172 

VI, A Heroic Symphony 177 

VII. The Enigma of Creative Work 181 

VIII. Jean Christophe 188 

IX. Olivier 195 

X. Grazia 200 

XI. Jean Christophe and his Fellow Men 203 

XII. Jean Christophe and the Nations 207 

XIII. The Picture of France 211 

XIV. The Picture of Germany 217 

XV. The Picture of Italy 221 

XVI. The Jews 224 

XVII. The Generations 229 

XVIII. Departure 235 


I. Taken Unawares 241 

II. The Burcundian Brother 244 

III. Gauloiseries 249 

IV. A Frustrate Message 252 


I. The Warden of the Inheritance 257 

II. Forearmed 260 

III. The Place of Refuge 264 

IV. The Service of Man 268 

V. The Tribunal of the Spirit 271 

VI. The Controversy with Gerhardt Hauptmann . . . 277 



VII. The Correspondence with Verhaeren 281 

VIII. The European Conscience 285 

IX. The Manifestoes 289 

X. Above the Battle 293 

XI. The Campaign against Hatred 297 

XII. Opponents 304 

XIII. Friends 311 

XIV. The Letters 317 

XV. The Counselor 320 

XVI. The Solitary 324 

XVII. The Diary 327 

XVIII. The Forerunners and Empedocles 329 

XIX. l<!LULi 335 

XX. Clerambault 339 

XXI. The Last Appeal 348 

XXII. Declaration of the Independence of the Mind . . 351 

XXIII. Envoy 355 

Bibliography 357 

Index 371 


Romain Rolland after a drawing by Granie (1909) 



Romain Rolland at the Normal School 12 

Leo Tolstoi's Letter 20 

Rolland's Transcript of Francesco Provenzale's Aria from 

Lo Schiavo di sua Moglie 34 

Rolland's Transcript of a Melody by Paul Dupin, UOncle 

Gottfried 35 

Romain Rolland at the Time of Writing Beethoven . . 142 

Romain Rol'land at the Time of Writing Jean Christophe 162 

Romain Rolland at the Time of Writing Above the Battle 294 

Rolland's Mother 324 

Original Manuscript of The Declaration of the Independ- 
ence of the Mind 352 


The surge of the Heart*s energies 
would not break in a mist of foam, 
nor be subtilized into Spirit, did not 
the rock of Fate, from the beginning 
of days, stand ever silent in the way. 





THE first fifty years of Romain Rolland's life 
were passed in inconspicuous and almost soli- 
tary labors. Thenceforward, his name was to 
become a storm center of European discussion. Until 
shortly before the apocalyptic year, hardly an artist of 
our days worked in such complete retirement, or re- 
ceived so little recognition. 

Since that year, no artist has been the subject of so 
much controversy. His fundamental ideas were not 
destined to make themselves generally known until there 
was a world in arms bent upon destroying them. 

Envious fate works ever thus, interweaving the lives 
of the great with tragical threads. She tries her powers 
to the uttermost upon the strong, sending events to run 
counter to their plans, permeating their lives with strange 
allegories, imposing obstacles in their path — that they 
may be guided more unmistakably in the right course. 
Fate plays with them, plays a game with a sublime issue, 


for all experience is precious. Think of the greatest 
among our contemporaries; think of Wagner, Nietzsche, 
Dostoevsky, Tolstoi, Strindberg; in the case of each of 
them, destiny has superadded to the creations of the 
artist's mind, the drama of personal experience. 

Notably do these considerations apply to the life of 
» Romain Rolland. The significance of his life's work 
{ \ becomes plain only when it ^ contemplated as a whole. 
It was slowly produced, f or ' it had to encounter great 
dangers; it was a gradual revelation, tardily consum- 
mated. The foundations of this splendid structure were 
deeply dug in the firm ground of knowledge, and were 
laid upon the hidden masonry of years spent in isola- 
tion. Thus tempered by the ordeal of a furnace seven 
times heated, his work has the essential imprint of hu- 
manity. Precisely owing to the strength of its founda- 
tions, to the solidity of its moral energy, was" Rolland's 
thought able to stand unshaken throughout the war storms 
that have been ravaging Europe. While other monu- 
ments to which we had looked up with veneration, crack- 
ing and crumbling, have been leveled with the quaking 
earth, the monument he had builded stands firm "above 
the battle," above the medley of opinions, a pillar of 
strength towards which all free spirits can turn for con- 
solation amid the tumult of the world. 



ROMAIN ROLLAND was bom on January 29, 
1866, a year of strife, the year when Sadowa 
was fought. His native town was Clamecy, 
where another imaginative writer, Claude Tillier, au- 
thor of Mon Oncle Benjamin, was likewise born. An 
ancient city, within the confines of old-time Burgundy, 
Clamecy is a quiet place, where life is easy and unevent- 
ful. The Rollands belong to a highly respected middle- 
class family. His father, who was a lawyer, was one 
of the notables of the town. His mother, a pious and 
serious-minded woman, devoted all her energies to the 
upbringing of her two children; Romain, a delicate boy, 
and his sister Madeleine, younger than he. As far as 
the environment of daily life was concerned, the atmos- 
phere was calm and untroubled; but in the blood of the 
parents existed contrasts deriving from earlier days of 
French history, contrasts not yet fully reconciled. On 
the father's side, Rolland's ancestors were champions of 
the Convention, ardent partisans of the Revolution, and 
some of them sealed their faith with their blood. From 
his mother's family he inherited the Jansenist spirit, the 
investigator's temperament of Port-Royal. He was thus 


endowed by both parents with tendencies to fervent faith, 
but tendencies to faith in contradictory ideals. In 
France this cleavage between love for religion and pas- 
sion for freedom, between faith and revolution, dates 
from centuries back. Its seeds were destined to blos- 
som in the artist. 

His first years of childhood were passed in the shadow 
of the defeat of 1870. In Antoinette, Holland sketches 
the tranquil life of just such a provincial town as Cla- 
mecy. His home was an old house on the bank of a 
canal. Not from this narrow world were to spring the 
first delights of the boy who, despite his physical frailty, 
was so passionately sensitive to enjoyment. A mighty 
impulse from afar, from the unfathomable past, came 
to stir his pulses. Early did he discover music, the lan- 
guage of languages, the first great message of the soul. 
, His mother taught him the piano. From its tones he 
M learned to build for himself the infinite world of feel- 
ing, thus transcending the limits imposed by nationality. 
For while the pupil eagerly assimilated the easily under- 
stood music of French classical composers, German 
music at the same time enthralled his youthful soul. 
He has given an admirable description of the way in 
which this revelation came to him: "We had a num- 
ber of old German music books. German? Did I know 
the meaning of the word? In our part of the world I 
believe no one had ever seen a German ... I turned 
the leaves of the old books, spelling out the notes on the 
piano, . . . and these runnels, these streamlets of mel- 


ody, which watered my heart, sank into the thirsty 
ground as the rain soaks into the earth. The bliss and 
the pain, the desires and the dreams, of Mozart and 
Beethoven, have become flesh of my flesh and bone of 
my bone. I am them, and they are me . . . How much 
do I owe them. When I was ill as a child, and death 
seemed near, a melody of Mozart would watch over my 
pillow like a lover . . . Later, in crises of doubt and 
depression, the music of Beethoven would revive in me 
the sparks of eternal life . . . Whenever my spirit is 
weary, whenever I am sick at heart, I turn to my piano 
and bathe in music." 

/ Thus early did the child enter into communion with 
the wordless speech of humanity; thus early had the all- 
embracing sympathy of the life of feeling enabled him 
to pass beyond the narrows of town and of province, of 
nation and of era. Music was his first prayer to the 
elemental forces of life; a prayer daily repeated in 
countless forms; so that now, half a century later, a 
week and even a day rarely elapses without his hold- 
ing converse with Beethoven. The other saint of his 
childhood's days, Shakespeare, likewise belonged to a 
foreign land. With his first loves, all unaware, the lad 
had already overstridden the confines of nationality. 
Amid the dusty lumber in a loft he discovered an edition 
of Shakespeare, which his grandfather (a student in Paris 
when Victor Hugo was a young man and Shakespeare 
mania was rife) had bought and forgotten. His child- 
ish interest was first awakened by a volume of faded en- 


gravings entitled Galerie des femmes de Shakespeare. 
His fancy was thrilled by the charming faces, by the 
magical names Perdita, Imogen, and Miranda. But 
soon, reading the plays, he became immersed in the maze 
of happenings and personalities. He would remain in 
the loft hour after hour, disturbed by nothing beyond the 
occasional trampling of the horses in the stable below or 
by the rattling of a chain on a passing barge. Forget- 
ting everything and forgotten by all he sat in a great arm- 
chair with the beloved book, which like that of Prospero 
made all the spirits of the universe his servants. He was 
encircled by a throng of unseen auditors, by imaginary 
figures which formed a rampart between himself and the 
world of realities. 

As ever happens, we see a great life opening with 
great dreams. His first enthusiasms were most power- 
fully aroused by Shakespeare and Beethoven, The 
youth inherited from the child, the man from the youth, 
this passionate admiration for greatness. One who has 
hearkened to such a call, cannot easily confine his ener- 
gies within a narrow circle. The school in the petty 
provincial town had nothing more to teach this aspiring 
boy. The parents could not bring themselves to send 
their darling alone to the metropolis, so with heroic self- 
denial they decided to sacrifice their own peaceful exist- 
ence. The father resigned his lucrative and independent 
position as notary, which made him a leading figure in 
Clamecy society, in order to become one of the num- 
berless employees of a Parisian bank. The familiar 
home, the patriarchal life, were thrown aside that the 


Rollands might watch over their boy's schooling and 
upgrowing in the great city. The whole family looked 
to Romain's interest, thus teaching him early what others 
do not usually leam until full manhood — responsibility. 



THE boy was still too young to feel the magic of 
Paris. To his dreamy nature, the clamorous 
and brutal materialism of the city seemed 
strange and almost hostile. Far on into life he was to 
retain from these hours a hidden dread, a hidden shrink- 
ing from the fatuity and soullessness of great towns, an 
f I inexplicable feeling that there was a lack of truth and 
■ l genuineness in the life of the capital. His parents sent 
him to the Lyceum of Louis the Great, a celebrated high 
school in the heart of Paris. Many of the ablest and 
most distinguished sons of France, have been among the 
boys who, humming like a swarm of bees, emerge daily 
at noon from the great hive of knowledge. He was intro- 
duced to the items of French classical education, that he 
might become "un bon perroquet Comelien." His vital 
experiences, however, lay outside the domain of this 
logical poesy or poetical logic; his enthusiasms drew 
him, as heretofore, towards a poesy that was really alive, 
and towards music. Nevertheless, it was at school that 
he found his first companion. 

By the caprice of chance, for this friend likewise fame 
was to come only after twenty years of silence. Romain 



Rolland and his intimate Paul Claudel (author of An- 
nonce faite a Marie), the two greatest imaginative writ- 
ters in contemporary France, who crossed the threshold 
of school together, were almost simultaneously, twenty 
years later, to secure a European reputation. During 
the last quarter of a century, the two have followed very 
different paths in faith and spirit, have cultivated widely 
divergent ideals. Claudel's steps have been directed 
towards the mystic cathedral of the Catholic past; Rol- 
land has moved through France and beyond, towards the '' 
ideal of a free Europe. At that time, however, in their 
daily walks to and from school, they enjoyed endless 
conversations, exchanging thoughts upon the books they 
had read, and mutually inflaming one another's youthful 
ardors. The bright particular star of their heaven was 
Richard Wagner, who at that date was casting a marvel- 
ous spell over the mind of French youth. In Rolland's 
case it was not simply Wagner the artist who exercised 
this influence, but Wagner the universal poietic person- 

School days passed quickly and somewhat joylessly. 
Too sudden had been the transition from the romanticist 
home to the harshly realist Paris. To the sensitive lad, 
the city could only show its teeth, display its indifference, 
manifest the fierceness of its rhythm. These qualities, 
this Maelstrom aspect, aroused in his mind something ap- 
proaching to alarm. He yearned for sympathy, cordial- 
ity, soaring aspirations; now as before, art was his 
savior, "glorious art, in so many gray hours." His chief 
joys were the rare afternoons spent at popular Sunday 


concerts, when the pulse of music came to thrill his heart 
— how charmingly is not this described in Antoinette! 
Nor had Shakespeare lost power in any degree, now that 
his figures, seen on the stage, were able to arouse min- 
gled dread and ecstasy. The boy gave his whole soul 
to the dramatist. ► "He took possession of me like a 
conqueror; I threw myself to him like a flower. At the 
same time, the spirit of music flowed over me as water 
floods a plain; Beethoven and Berlioz even more than 
Wagner. I had to pay for these joys. I was, as it were, 
intoxicated for a year or two, much as the earth becomes 
supersaturated in time of flood. In the entrance ex- 
amination to the Normal School I failed twice, thanks to 
my preoccupation with Shakespeare and with music." 
Subsequently, he discovered a third master, a liberator 
of his faith. This was Spinoza, whose acquaintance he 
made during an evening spent alone at school, and whose 
gentle intellectual light was henceforward to illumine 
Rolland's soul throughout life. The greatest of mankind 
have ever been his examples and companions. 

When the time came for him to leave school, a conflict 
arose between inclination and duty. Rolland's most 
ardent wish was to become an artist after the manner of 
Wagner, to be at once musician and poet, to write heroic 
musical dramas. Already there were floating through 
his mind certain musical conceptions which, as a national 
contrast to those of Wagner, were to deal with the French 
cycle of legends. One of these, that of St. Louis, he 
was in later years indeed to transfigure, not in music, 
but in winged words. His parents, however, considered 


such wishes premature. They demanded more practical 
endeavors, and recommended the Polytechnic School. 
Ultimately a happy compromise was found between duty 
and inclination. A decision was made in favor of the 
study of the mental and moral sciences. In 1886, at a 
third trial, Holland brilliantly passed the entrance ex- 
amination to the Normal School. This institution, with 
its peculiar characteristics and the special historic form 
of its social life, was to stamp a decisive imprint upon 
his thought and his destiny. 



ROLLAND'S childhood was passed amid the 
rural landscapes of Burgundy. His school 
life was spent in the roar of Paris. His stu- 
dent years involved a still closer confinement in airless 
spaces, when he became a boarder at the Normal School. 
To avoid all distraction, the pupils of this institution are 
shut away from the world, kept remote from real life, 
that they may understand historical life the better. 
Renan, in Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse, has given 
a powerful description of the isolation of budding theo- 
logians in the seminary. Embryo army officers are seg- 
regated at St. Cyr. In like manner at the Normal School 
a general staff for the intellectual world is trained in 
cloistral seclusion. The "normaliens" are to be the 
teachers of the coming generation. The spirit of tradi- 
tion unites with stereotyped method, the two breeding in- 
and-in with fruitful results; the ablest among the scholars 
will become in turn teachers in the same institution. 
The training is severe, demanding indefatigable dili- 
gence, for its goal is to discipline the intellect. But 
since it aspires towards universality of culture, the Nor- 
mal School permits considerable freedom of organiza- 


Romain Rolland at the Normal School 


tion, and avoids the dangerous over-specialization char- 
acteristic of Germany. Not by chance did the most 
universal spirits of France emanate from the Normal 
School. We think of such men as Renan, Jaures, 
Michelet, Monod, and Rolland. 

Although during these years Rolland's chief interest 
was directed towards philosophy, although he was a dili- 
gent student of the pre-Socratic philosophers of ancient 
Greece, of the Cartesians, and of Spinoza, nevertheless, 
during the second year of his course, he chose, or was 
intelligently guided to choose, history and geography 
as his principal subjects. The choice was a fortunate 
one, and was decisive for the development of his artistic 
life. Here he first came to look upon universal history 
as an eternal ebb and flow of epochs, wherein yesterday, 
to-day, and to-morrow comprise but a single living entity. 
He learned to take broad views. He acquired his pre- 
eminent capacity for vitalizing history. On the other 
hand, he owes to this same strenuous school of youth his 
power for contemplating the present from the detachment 
of a higher cultural sphere. No other imaginative 
writer of our time possesses anything like so solid a 
foundation in the form of real and methodical knowl- 
edge in all domains. It may well be, moreover, that his 
incomparable capacity for work was acquired during 
these years of seclusion. 

Here in the Prytaneum (Rolland's life is full of such 
mystical word plays) the young man found a friend. 
He also was in the future to be one of the leading spirits 
of France, one who, like Claudel and Rolland himself. 


was not to attain widespread celebrity until the lapse of 
a quarter of a century. We should err were we to con- 
.sider it the outcome of pure chance that the three greatest 
i representatives of idealism, of the new poetic faith in 
France, Paul Claudel, Andre Snares, and Charles Peguy, 
should in their formative years have been intimate 
friends of Romain Rolland, and that after long years of 
obscurity they should almost at the same hour have ac- 
quired extensive influence over the French nation. In 
their mutual converse, in their mysterious and ardent 
faith, were created the elements of a world which was 
not immediately to become visible through the formless 
vapors of time. Though not one of these friends had as 
yet a clear vision of his goal, and though their respective 
energies were to leaa them along widely divergent paths, 
their mutual reactions strengthened the primary forces 
of passion and of steadfast earnestness to become a sense 
of all-embracing world community. They were inspired 
with an identical mission to devote their lives, renouncing 
success and pecuniary reward, that by work and appeal 
they might help to restore to their nation its lost faith. 
Each one of these four comrades, Rolland, Snares, 
Claudel, and Peguy, has from a diff"erent intellectual 
standpoint brought this revival to his nation. 

As in the case of Claudel at the Lyceum, so now with 
Snares at the Normal School, Rolland was drawn to his 
friend through the love which they shared for music, and 
especially for the music of Wagner. A further bond of 
union was the passion both had for Shakespeare. "This 
passion," Rolland has written, "was the first link in the 


long chain of our friendship. Suares was then, what he 
has again become to-day after traversing the numerous 
phases of a rich and manifold nature, a man of the 
Renaissance. He had the very soul, the stormy tempera- 
ment, of that epoch. With his long black hair, his pale 
face, and his burning eyes, he looked like an Italian 
painted by Carpaccio or Ghirlandajo. As a school exer- 
cise he penned an ode to Cesare Borgia. Shakespeare 
was his god, as Shakespeare was mine; and we often 
fought side by side for Shakespeare against our profes- 
sors." But soon came a new passion which partially 
replaced that for the great English dramatist. There 
ensued the "Scythian invasion," an enthusiastic affection 
for Tolstoi, which was likewise to be lifelong. These 
young idealists were repelled by the trite naturalism of 
Zola and Maupassant. They were enthusiasts who 
looked for life to be sustained at a level of heroic ten- 
sion. They, like Flaubert and Anatole France, could 
not rest content with a literature of self gratification and 
amusement. Now, above these trivialities, was revealed 
the figure of a messenger of God, of one prepared to de- 
vote his life to the ideal. "Our sympathies went out to 
him. Our love for Tolstoi was able to reconcile all our 
contradictions. Doubtless each one of us loved him 
from different motives, for each one of us found him- 
self in the master. But for all of us alike he opened a 
gate into an infinite universe ; for all he was a revelation 
of life." As always since earliest childhood, Rolland 
was wholly occupied in the search for ultimate values, 
for the hero, for the universal artist. 


During these years of hard work at the Normal School, 
Holland devoured book after book, writing after writing. 
His teachers, Brunetiere, and above all Gabriel Monod, 
already recognized his peculiar gift for historical descrip- 
tion. Holland was especially enthralled by the branch 
of knowledge which Jakob Burckhardt had in a sense 
invented not long before, and to which he had given the 
1^ name of "history of civilization" — the spiritual picture 
• of an entire era. As regards special epochs, Holland's 
interest was notably aroused by the wars of religion, 
wherein the spiritual elements of faith were permeated 
with the heroism of personal sacrifice. Thus early do 
the motifs of all his creative work shape themselves! 
He drafted a whole series of studies, and simultaneously 
planned a more ambitious work, ^ history of the heroic 
epoch of Catherine de Medici. In the scientific field, 
too, our student was boldly attacking ultimate problems, 
drinking in ideas thirstily from all the streamlets and 
rivers of philosophy, natural science, logic, music, and 
the history of art. But the burden of these acquirements 
was no more able to crush the poet in him than the weight 
of a tree is able to crush its roots. During stolen hours 
he made essays in poetry and music, which, however, he 
has always kept hidden from the world. In the year 
^^1888, before leaving the Normal School to face the ex- 
^ periences of actual life, he wrote Credo quia verum. 
This is a remarkable document, a spiritual testament, a 
moral and philosophical confession. It remains unpub- 
lished, but a friend of Holland's youth assures us that 
it contains the essential elements of his untrammeled 


outlook on the world. Conceived in the Spinozist spirit, 
based not upon "Cogito ergo sum" but upon "Cogito ergo 
est," it builds up the world, and thereon establishes its 
god. For himself accountable to himself alone, he is 
to be freed in future from the need for metaphysical 
speculation. As if it were a sacred oath, duly sworn, he 
henceforward bears this confession with him into the 
struggle ; if he but remain true to himself, he will be true 
to his vow. The foundations have been deeply dug and 
firmly laid. It is time now to begin the superstructure. 
Such were his activities during these years of study. 
But through them there already looms a dream, the 
dream of a romance, the history of a single-hearted artist 
who bruises himself against the rocks of life. Here we 
have the larval stage of Jean Christophe, the first twilit 
sketch of the work to come. But much weaving of des- 
tiny, many encounter^and an abundance of ordeals will 
be requisite, ere the multicolored and impressive imago 
will emerge from the obscurity of these first intimations. 



SCHOOL days were over. The old problem con- 
cerning the choice of profession came up anew 
for discussion. Although science had proved en- 
riching, although it had aroused enthusiasm, it had by 
no means fulfilled the young artist's cherished dream. 
More than ever his longings turned towards imaginative 
literature and towards music. His most ardent ambition 
was still to join the ranks of those whose words and melo- 
dies unlock men's souls; he aspired to become a creator, 
a consoler. But life seemed to demand orderly forms, 
discipline instead of freedom, an occupation instead of a 
mission. The young man, now two-and-twenty years of 
age, stood undecided at the parting of the ways. 

Then came a message from afar, a message from the 
beloved hand of Leo Tolstoi. The whole generation 
honored the Russian as a leader, looked up to him as the 
embodied symbol of truth. Iruthis year was published 
Tolstoi's booklet What is Jo ocD e nc ?, containing a fierce 
indictment of art. Contemptuously he shattered all that 
was dearest to Rolland. Beethoven, to whom the young 
Frenchman daily addressed a fervent prayer, was termed 
a seducer to sensuality. Shakespeare was a poet of the 



fourth rank, a wastrel. The whole of modem art was 
swept away like chaff from the threshing-floor; the heart's 
holy of holies was cast into outer darkness. This tract, 
which rang through Europe, could be dismissed with 
a smile by those of an older generation; but for the 
young men who revered Tolstoi as their one hope in a 
lying and cowardly age, it stormed through their con- 
sciences like a hurricane. The bitter necessity was forced 
upon them of choosing between Beethoven and the holy 
one of their hearts. Writing of this hour, RoUand says: 
"The goodness, the sincerity, the absolute straightfor- 
wardness of this man made of him for me an infallible 
guide in the prevailing moral anarchy. But at the same 
time, from childhood's days, I had passionately loved art. 
Music, in especial, was my daily food; I do not exagger- 
ate in saying that to me music was as much a necessary 
of life as bread." Yet this very music was stigmatized 
by Tolstoi, the beloved teacher, the most human of men; 
was decried as "an enjoyment that leads men to neglect 
duty." Tolstoi contemned the Ariel of the soul as a 
seducer to sensuality. What was to be done? The 
young man's heart was racked. Was he to follow the 
sage of Yasnaya Polyana, to cut away from his life all 
will to art; or was he to follow the innermost call which 
would lead him to transfuse the whole of his life with 
music and poesy? He must perforce be unfaithful, 
either to the most venerated among artists, or to art itself; 
either to the most beloved among men or to the most 
beloved among ideas. 

In this state of mental cleavage, the student now 


formed an amazing resolve. Sitting down one day in 
his little attic, he wrote a letter to be sent into the re- 
mote distances of Russia, a letter describing to Tolstoi 
the doubts that perplexed his conscience. He wrote as 
those who despair pray to God, with no hope for a 
miracle, no expectation of an answer, but merely to 
satisfy the burning need for confession. Weeks elapsed, 
and Rolland had long since forgotten his hour of impulse. 
But one evening, returning to his room, he found upon 
the table a small packet. It was Tolstoi's answer to the 
unknown correspondent, thirty-eight pages written in 
French, an entire treatise. This letter of October 14, 
1887, subsequently published by Peguy as No. 4 of the 
third series of "Cahiers de la quinzaine,'' began with 
the affectionate words, "Cher Frere." First was an- 
nounced the profound impression produced upon the 
great man, to whose heart this cry for help had struck. 
"I have received your first letter. It has touched me to 
the heart. I have read it with tears in my eyes." Tol- 
stoi went on to expound his ideas upon art. That_alone 
is ofjyalue, he said, which binds men together; the only 
artist who counts is the artist who makes a sacrifice for 
his convictions. The precondition of every true calling' 
must be, not love for art, but love for mankind. Those 
only who are filled with such a love can hope that they 
will ever be able, as artists, to do anything worth doing. 
These words exercised a decisive influence upon the 
future of Romain Rolland. But the doctrine summa- 
rized above has been expounded by Tolstoi often enough, 





Leo Tolstoi's Letter 



and expounded more clearly. What especially affected 
our novice was the proof of the sage's readiness to give 
Jiuman help^ Far more than by the words was Rolland 
moved by the kindly deed of Tolstoi. This man of 
world-wide fame, responding to the appeal of a nameless 
and unknown youth, a student in a back street of Paris, 
had promptly laid aside his own labors, had devoted a 
whole day, or perhaps two days, to the task of answering 
and consoling his unknown brother. For Rolland this 
was a vital experience, a deep and creative experience. 
The remembrance of his own need, the remembrance of 
the help then received from a foreign thinker, taught him 
to regard every crisis of conscience as something sacred, 
and to look upon the rendering of aid as the artist's pri- 
mary moral duty. From the day he opened Tolstoi's 
letter, he himself became the great helper, the brotherly 
adviser. His whole work, his human authority, found 
its beginnings here. Never since then, however pressing 
the demands upon his time, has he failed to bear in 
mind the help he received. Never has he refused to 
render help to any unknown person appealing out of a 
genuinely troubled conscience. From Tolstoi's letter 
sprang countless Rollands, bringing aid and counsel 
throughout the years. Henceforward, poesy was to him 
a sacred trust, one which he has fulfilled in the name of 
his master. Rarely has history borne more splendid 
witness to the fact that in the moral sphere no less than 
in the physical, force never runs to waste. The hour 
when Tolstoi wrote to his unknown correspondent has 



■sV t-^ 



been revived in a thousand letters from Holland to a 
thousand unknowns. An infinite quantity of seed is 
to-day wafted through the world, seed that has sprung 
from this single grain of kindness. 



FROM every quarter, voices were calling: the 
French homeland, German music, Tolstoi's ex- 
hortation, Shakespeare's ardent appeal, the will 
to art, the need for earning a livelihood. While RoUand 
was still hesitating, his decision had again to be post- 
poned through the intervention of chance, the eternal 
friend of artists. 

Every year the Normal School provides traveling 
scholarships for some of its best pupils. The term is 
two years. Archeologists are sent to Greece, historians 
to Rome. Rolland had no strong desire for such a mis- 
sion; he was too eager to face the realities of life. But 
fate is apt to stretch forth her hand to those who are coy. 
Two of his fellow students had refused the Roman 
scholarship, and Rolland was chosen to fill the vacancy 
almost against his will. To his inexperience, Rome still 
seemed nothing more than dead past, a history in shreds 
and patches, a dull record which he would have to piece 
together from inscriptions and parchments. It was a 
school task; an imposition, not life. Scanty were his ex- 
pectations when he set forth on pilgrimage to the eternal 



The duty imposed on him was to arrange documents in 
the gloomy Famese Pallace, to cull history from regis- 
ters and books. For a brief space he paid due tribute 
to this service, and in the archives of the Vatican he com- 
piled a memoir upon the nuncio Salviati and the sack of 
Rome. But ere long his attention was concentrated up- 
on the living alone. His mind was flooded by the 
wonderfully clear light of the Campagna, which reduces 
all things to a self-evident harmony, making life appear 
simple and giving it the aspect of pure sensation. For 
many, the gentle grace of the artist's promised land ex- 
ercises an irresistible charm. The memorials of the Re- 
naissance issue to the wanderer a summons to greatness. 
In Italy, more strongly than elsewhere, does it seem that 
art is the meaning of human life, and that art must be 
man's heroic ami. Throwing aside his theses, the 
young man of twenty, mtoxi'cated with the adventure of 
love and of life, wandered for months in blissful free- 
dom through the lesser cities of Italy and Sicily. Even 
Tolstoi was forgotten, for in this region of sensuous pre- 
sentation, in the dazzling south, the voice from the Rus- 
sian steppes, demanding renunciation, fell upon deaf 
ears. Of a sudden, however, Shakespeare, friend and 
guide of Rolland's childhood, resumed his sway. A 
cycle of the Shakespearean dramas, presented by Er- 
nesto Rossi, displayed to him the splendor of elemental 
passion, and aroused an irresistible longing to trans- 
figure, like Shakespeare, history in poetic form. He 
was moving day by day among the stone witnesses to the 
greatness of past centuries. He would recall those cen- 

ROME 25 

turies to life. The poet in him awakened. In cheerful 
faithlessness to his mission, he penned a series of 
dramas, catching them on the wing with that burning 
ecstacy which inspiration, coming unawares, invariably 
arouses in the artist. Just as England is presented in 
Shakespeare's historical plays, so was the whole Re- 
naissance epoch to be reflected in his own writings.,' icX^^' 
Light of heart, in the intoxication of composition he pen- 
ned one play after another, without concerning himself' 
as to the earthly possibilities for staging them. Not one 
of these romanticist dramas has, in fact, ever been per- 
formed. Not one of them is to-day accessible to the 
public. The maturer critical sense of the artist has 
made him hide them from the world. He has a fondness 
for the faded manuscripts simply as memorials of the 
ardors of youth. 

The most momentous experience of these years spent 
in Italy was the formation of a new friendship. Rolla nd 
iieYer_spught_£eople out. In essence he is a solitary, V^ 

one who loves -best to live among his books. Yet from 
the mystical and symbolical outlook it is characteristic 
of his biography that each epoch of his youth brought him 
into contact with one or other of the leading personalities 
of the day. In accordance with the mysterious laws of 
attraction, he has been drawn ever and again into the 
heroic sphere, has associated with the mighty ones of 
the earth. Shakespeare, Mozart, and Beethoven were 
the stars of his childhood. During school life, Suares 
and Claudel became his intimates. As a student, in an 
hour when he was needing the help of sages, he followed 
Renan; Spinoza freed his mind in matters of religion; 



from afar came the brotherly greeting of Tolstoi. In 
Rome, through a letter of introduction from Monod, he 
made the acquaintance of Malwida von Meysenbug, 
whose whole life had been a contemplation of the heroic 
past. Wagner, Nietzsche, Mazzini, Herzen, and Kossuth 
were her perennial intimates. For this free spirit, the 
barriers of nationality and language did not exist. No 
revolution in art or politics could affright her. "A 
human magnet," she exercised an irresistible appeal upon 
great natures. When RoUand met her she was already 
an old woman, a lucid intelligence, untroubled by disil- 
lusionment, still an idealist as in youth. From the 
height of her seventy years, she looked down over the 
past, serene and wise. A wealth of knowledge and ex- 
perience streamed from her mind to that of the learner. 
Holland found in her the same gentle illumination, the 
same sublime repose after passion, which had endeared 
. the Italian landscape to his mind. Just as from the 
monuments and pictures of Italy he could reconstruct the 
figures of the Renaissance heroes, so from Malwida's 
confidential talk could he reconstruct the tragedy in the 
lives of the artists she had known. In Rome he learned 
a just and loving appreciation for the genius of the 
•l present. His new friend taught him what in truth he had 

^ long ere this learned unawares from within, that there is 

a lofty level of thought and sensation where nations and 
languages become as one in the universal tongue of art. 
During a walk on the Janiculum, a vision came to him 
of the work of European scope he was one day to write, 
the vision of Jean Christophe. 

ROME 27 

Wonderful was the friendship between the old German 
woman and the Frenchman of twenty-three. Soon it be- 
came difficult for either of them to say which was more 
indebted to the other. Romain owed so much to Mal- 
wida, in that she had enabled him to form juster views 
of some of her great contemporaries; while Malwida 
valued Romain, because in this enthusiastic young artist 
she discerned new possibilities of greatness. The same 
idealism animated both, tried and chastened in the many- 
wintered woman, fiery and impetuous in the youth. 
Every day Rolland came to visit his venerable friend in 
the Via della Polveriera, playing to her on the piano the 
works of his favorite masters. She, in turn, introduced 
him to Roman society. Gently guiding his restless na- 
ture, she led him towards spiritual freedom. In his 
essay To the Undying Antigone, Rolland tells us that to 
two women, his mother, a sincere Christian, and Malwida 
von Meysenbug, a pure idealist, he owes his awakening 
to the full significance of art and of life. Malwida, 
writing in Der Lebens Abend einer Idealistin a quarter of 
a century before Rolland had attained celebrity, ex- 
pressed her confident belief in his coming fame. We 
cannot fail to be moved when we read to-day the descrip- 
tion of Rolland in youth: "My friendship with this 
young man was a great pleasure to me in other respects 
besides that of music. For those advanced in years, 
there can be no loftier gratification than to rediscover in 
the young the same impulse towards idealism, the same 
striving towards the highest aims, the same contempt for 
all that is vulgar or trivial, the same courage in the strug- 


gle for freedom of individuality . . . For two years I 
enjoyed the intellectual companionship of young Rol- 
land . . . Let me repeat, it was not from his musical 
talent alone that my pleasure was derived, though here 
he was able to fill what had long been a gap in my life. 
In other intellectual fields I found him likewise con- 
genial. He aspired to the fullest possible development 
of his faculties; whilst I myself, in his stimulating pres- 
ence, was able to revive youthfulness of thought, to re- 
discoter an intense interest in the whole world of imagi- 
native beauty. As far as poesy is concerned, I gradu- 
ally became aware of the greatness of my young friend's 
endowments, to be finally convinced of the fact by the 
reading of one of his dramatic poems." Speaking of 
this early work, she prophetically declared that the writ- 
er's moral energy might well be expected to bring about 
a regeneration of French imaginative literature. In a 
poem, finely conceived but a trifle sentimental, she ex- 
pressed her thankfulness for the experience of these two 
years. Malwida had recognized Romain as her Euro- 
pean brother, just as Tolstoi had recognized a disciple. 
Twenty years before the world had heard of Rolland, his 
life was moving on heroic paths. Greatness cannot be 
hid. When any one is bom to greatness, the past and 
the present send him images and figures to serve as 
exhortation and example. From every country and 
from every race of Europe, voices rise to greet the man 
who is one day to speak for them all. 



THE two years in Italy, a time of free receptivity 
and creative enjoyment, were over. A summons 
now came from Paris; the Normal School, which 
Rolland had left as pupil, required his services as 
teacher. The parting was a wrench, and Malwida von 
Meysenbug's farewell was designed to convey a sym- 
bolical meaning. She invited her young friend to ac- 
company her to Bayreuth, the chief sphere of the activi- 
ties of the man who, with Tolstoi, had been the leading 
inspiration of Rolland during early youth, the man whose 
image had been endowed with more vigorous life by 
Malwida's memories of his personality. Rolland wan- 
dered on foot across Umbria, to meet his friend in 
Venice. Together they visited the palace in which Wag- 
ner had died, and thence journeyed northward to the 
scene of his life's work. "My aim," writes Malwida in 
her characteristic style, which seldom attains strong emo- 
tional force, but is none the less moving, "was that Ro- 
main should have these sublime impressions to close 
his years in Italy and the fecund epoch of youth. I 
likewise wished the experience to be a consecration upon 
the threshold of manhood, with its prospective labors 
and its inevitable struggles and disillusionments." 



Olivier had entered the country of Jean Christophe! 
On the first morning of their arrival, before introducing 
her friend at Wahnfried, Malwida took him into the gar- 
den to see the master's grave. Rolland uncovered as if 
in church, and the two stood for a while in silence medi- 
tating on the hero, to one of them a friend, to the other 
a leader. In the evening they went to hear Wagner's 
posthumous work Parsifal. This composition, which, 
like the visit to Bayreuth, is strangely interconnected with 
the genesis of Jean Christophe, is as it were a consecra- 
tional prelude to Rolland's future. For life was now to 
call him from these great dreams. Malwida gives a 
moving description of their good-by. "My friends had 
kindly placed their box at my disposal. Once more I 
went to hear Parsifal with Rolland, who was about to 
return to France in order to play an active part in the 
work of life. It was a matter of deep regret to me that 
this gifted friend was not free to lift himself to 'higher 
spheres,' that he could not ripen from youth to manhood 
while wholly devoted to the unfolding of his artistic im- 
pulses. But I knew that none the less he would work at 
the roaring loom of time, weaving the living garment of 
divinity. The tears with which his eyes were filled at the 
close of the opera made me feel once more that my faith 
in him would be justified. Thus I bade him farewell 
with heartfelt thanks for the time filled with poesy which 
his talents had bestowed on me. I dismissed him with 
the blessing that age gives to youth entering upon life." 

Although an epoch that had been rich for both was now 
closed, their friendship was by no means over. For 


years to come, down to the end of her life, Holland wrote 
to Malwida once a week. These letters, which were re- 
turned to him after her death, contain a biography of his 
early manhood perhaps fuller than that which is avail- 
able in the case of any other notable personality. Ines- 
timable was the value of what he had learned from this 
encounter. He had now acquired an extensive knowl- 
edge of reality and an unlimited sense of human con- 
tinuity. Whereas he had gone to Rome to study the 
art of the dead past, he had found the living Germany, 
and could enjoy the companionship of her undying 
heroes. The triad of poesy, music, and science, har- 
monizes unconsciously with that other triad, France, 
Germany, and Italy. Once and for all, Holland had ac- 
quired the European spirit. Before he had written a 
line of Jean Christophe, that great epic was already liv- 
ing in his blood. 



THE form of Rolland's career, no less than the 
substance of his inner life, was decisively fash- 
ioned by these two years in Italy. As happened 
in Goethe's case, so in that with which we are now con- 
cerned, the conflict of the will was harmonized amid the 
sublime clarity of the southern landscape. Rolland had 
gone to Rome with his mind still undecided. By genius, 
he was a musician; by inclination, a poet; by necessity, 
a historian. Little by little, a magical union had been 
effected between music and poesy. In his first dramas, 
the phrasing is permeated with lyrical melody. Simul- 
aneously, behind the winged words, his historic sense had 
built up a mighty scene out of the rich hues of the past. 
After the success of his thesis Les origines du theatre 
lyrique moderns {Histoire de I'opera en Europe avant 
Lully et Scarlatti), he became professor of the history of 
music, first at the Normal School, and from 1903 on- 
wards at the Sorbonne. The aim he set before himself 
was to display "Teternelle floraison," the sempiternal 
blossoming, of music as an endless series through the 
ages, while each age none the less puts forth its own 

characteristic shoots. Discovering for the first time what 



was to be henceforward his favorite theme, he showed 
how, in this apparently abstract sphere, the nations culti- 
vate their individual characteristics, while never ceasing 
to develop unawares the higher unity wherein time and 
national differences are unknown. A great power for 
understanding others, in association with the faculty for 
writing so as to be readily understood, constitutes the es- 
sence of his activities. Here, moreover, in the element 
with which he was most familiar, his emotional force was 
singularly effective. More than any teacher before him 
did he make the science he had to convey, a living thing. 
Dealing with the invisible entity of music, he showed that 
the greatness of mankind is never concentrated in a sin- 
gle age, nor exclusively allotted to a single nation, but is 
transmitted from age to age and from nation to nation. 
Thus like a torch does it pass from one master to another, 
a torch that will never be extinguished while human be- 
ings continue to draw the breath of inspiration. There 
are no contradictions, there is no cleavage, in art. "His- 
tory must take for its object the living unity of the human 
spirit. Consequently, history is compelled to maintain 
the tie between all the thoughts of the human spirit." 

Many of those who heard RoUand's lectures at the 
School of Social Science and at the Sorbonne, still speak 
of them to-day with undiminished gratitude. Only in a 
formal sense was history the topic of these discourses, 
and science was merely their foundation. It is true that 
Rolland, side by side with his universal reputation, has a 
reputation among specialists in musical research for hav- 
ing discovered the manuscript of Luigi Rossi's Orfeo, 


and for having been the first to do justice to the forgotten 
Francesco Provenzale (the teacher of Alessandro Scar- 
latti who founded the Neapolitan school). But their 
broad humanist scope, their encyclopedic outlook, makes 
his lectures on The Beginnings of Opera frescoes of 
whilom civilizations. In interludes of speaking, he 
would give music voice, playing on the piano long-lost 
airs, so that in the very Paris where they first blossomed 
three hundred years before, their silvery tones were now 
reawakened from dust and parchment. At this date, 
while Rolland was still quite young, he began to exercise 
, upon his fellows that clarifying, guiding, inspiring, and 
formative influence, which since then, increasingly rein- 
/, forced by the power of his imaginative writings and 
spread by these into ever widening circles, has become 
immeasurable in its extent. Nevertheless, throughout 
its expansion, this force has remained true to its primary 
aim. From first to last, Rolland's leading thought has 
been to display, amid all the forms of man's past and 
man's present, the things that are really great in human 
^ * \ personality, and the unity of all single-hearted endeavor. 
It is obvious that Romain Rolland's passion for music 
could not be restricted within the confines of history. 
He could never become a specialist. The limitations in- 
volved in the career of such experts are utterly uncon- 
genial to his synthetic temperament. For him the past 
,s but a preparation for the present; what has been merely 
provides the possibility for increasing comprehension of 
the future. Thus side by side with his learned theses 
and with his volumes Musiciens d'autrefois, Haendel, 






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Histoire de VOpera, etc., we have his Musiciens d'aujour- 
d'hui, a collection of essays which were first published in 
the "'Revue de Paris" and the "Revue de ran dra- 
matique," essays penned by Rolland as champion of the 
modern and the unknown. This collection contains the 
first portrait of Hugo Wolf ever published in France, 
together with striking presentations of Richard Strauss 
and Debussy. He was never weary of looking for new 
creative forces in European music; he went to the Stras- 
burg musical festival to hear Gustav Mahler, and visited 
Bonn to attend the Beethoven festival. Nothing seemed 
alien to his eager pursuit of knowledge; his sense of 
justice was all-embracing. From Catalonia to Scan- 
dinavia he listened for every new wave in the ocean of 
music. He was no less at home with the spirit of the 
present than with the spirit of the past. 

During these years of activity as teacher, he learned 
much from life. New circles were opened to him in the 
Paris which hitherto he had known little of except from 
the window of his lonely study. His position at the uni- 
versity and his marriage brought the man who had 
hitherto associated only with a few intimates and with 
distant heroes, into contact with intellectual and social 
life. In the house of his father-in-law, the distinguished 
philologist Michel Breal, he became acquainted with the 
leading lights of the Sorbonne. Elsewhere, in the draw- 
ing-rooms, he moved among financiers, bourgeois, offi- 
cials, persons drawn from all strata of city life, includ- 
ing the cosmopolitans who are always to be found in 
Paris. Involuntarily, during these years, Rolland the 


romanticist became an observer. His idealism, without 
forfeiting intensity, gained critical strength. The ex- 
periences garnered (it might be better to say, the disil- 
lusionments sustained) in these contacts, all this medley 
of commonplace life, were to form the basis of his subse- 
quent descriptions of the Parisian world in La foire sur 
la place and Dans la maison. Occasional journeys to 
Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and his beloved Italy, 
gave him opportunities for comparison, and provided 
fresh knowledge. More and more, the growing horizon 
of modem culture came to occupy his thoughts, thus dis- 
placing the science of history. The wanderer returned 
from Europe had discovered his home, had discovered 
Paris ; the historian had found the most important epoch 
for living men and women — the present. 



ROLLAND was now a man of thirty, with his ener- 
gies at their prime. He was inspired with a 
restrained passion for activity. In all times 
and scenes, alike in the past and in the present, his in- 
spiration discerned greatness. The impulse now grew 
strong within him to give his imaginings life. 

But this will to greatness encountered a season of petty 
things. At the date when Holland began his life work, 
the mighty figures of French literature had already 
passed from the stage: Victor Hugo, with his indefatig- 
able summons to idealism; Flaubert, the heroic worker; 
Renan, the sage. The stars of the neighboring heaven, 
Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche, had set or be- 
come obscured. Extant art, even the serious art of a 
Zola or a Maupassant, was devoted to the commonplace; 
it created only in the image of a corrupt and enfeebled 
generation. Political life had become paltry and supine. 
Philosophy was stereotyped and abstract. There was no 
longer any common bond to unite the elements of the 
nation, for its faith had been shattered for decades to 
come by the defeat of 1870. Rolland aspired to bold 

ventures, but his world would have none of them. He 



was a fighter, but his world desired an easy life. He 
wanted fellowship, but all that his world wanted was 

Suddenly a storm burst over the country. France was 
stirred to the depths. The entire nation became en- 
grossed in an intellectual and moral problem. Rolland, 
a bold swimmer, was one of the first to leap into the 
turbulent flood. Betwixt night and morning, the Dreyfus 
affair rent France in twain. There were no abstention- 
ists ; there was no calm contemplation. The finest among 
Frenchmen were the hottest partisans. For two years 
the country was severed as by a knife blade into two 
camps, that of those whose verdict was "guilty," and that 
of those whose verdict was "not guilty." In Jean Chris- 
tophe and in Peguy's reminiscences, we learn how the 
section cut pitilessly athwart families, dividing brother 
from brother, father from son, friend from friend. To- 
day we find it difficult to understand how this accusation 
of espionage brought against an artillery captain could 
involve all France in a crisis. The passions aroused 
transcended the immediate cause to invade the whole 
sphere of mental life. Every Frenchman was faced by 
a problem of conscience, was compelled to make a deci- 
sion between fatherland and justice. Thus with explo- 
sive energy the moral forces were, for all right-thinking 
minds, dragged into the vortex. Rolland was among the 
few who from the very outset insisted that Dreyfus was 
innocent. The apparent hopelessness of these early en- 
deavors to secure justice were for Rolland a spur to 
conscience. Whereas Peguy was enthralled by the mys- 


tical power of the problem, which would he hoped bring 
about a moral purification of his country, and while in 
conjunction with Bernard Lazare he wrote propagandist 
pamphlets calculated to add fuel to the flames, Rol- 
land's energies were devoted to the consideration of the 
immanent problem of justice. Under the pseudonym 
Saint-Just he published a dramatic parable, Les loups, 
wherein he lifted the problem from the realm of time into 
the realm of the eternal. This was played to an en- 
thusiastic audience, among which were Zola, Scheurer- 
Kestner, and Picquart. The more definitely political the"^ 
trial became, the more evident was it that the freemasons, 
the anti-clericalists, and the socialists were using the af- 
fair to secure their own ends; and the more the question 
of material success replaced the question of the ideal, the 
more did Rolland withdraw from active participation. 
His enthusiasm is devoted only to spiritual matters, to j 
problems, to lost causes. In the Dreyfus affair, just as | 
later, it was his glory to have been one of the first to take 
up arms, and to have been a solitary champion in a his- ^ 
toric moment. 

Simultaneously, Rolland was working shoulder to 
shoulder with Peguy, and with Suares the friend of his 
adolescence, in a new campaign. This differed from 
the championship of Dreyfus in that it was not stormy 
and clamorous, but involved a tranquil heroism which 
made it resemble rather the way of the cross. The 
friends were painfully aware of the corruption and 
triviality of the literature then dominant in Paris. To 
attempt a direct attack would have been fruitless, for 


this hydra had the whole periodical press at its Service. 
Nowhere was it possible to inflict a mortal blow upon 
the many-headed and thousand-armed entity. They re- 
solved, therefore, to work against it, not with its own 
means, not by imitating its own noisy activities, but by 
the force of moral example, by quiet sacrifice and in- 
vincible patience. For fifteen years they wrote and 
edited the "Cahiers de la quinzaineJ" Not a centime 
was spent on advertising it, and it was rarely to be found 
on sale at any of the usual agents. It was read by stu- 
dents and by a few men of letters, by a small circle grow- 
ing imperceptibly. Throughout an entire decade, all 
Holland's works appeared in its pages, the whole of Jean 
Christophe, Beethoven, Michel- Ange, and the plays. 
Though during this epoch the author's financial position 
was far from easy, he received nothing for any of these 
writings — the case is perhaps unexampled in modern 
literature. To fortify their idealism, to set an example 
to others, these heroic figures renounced the chance of 
publicity, circulation, and remuneration for their writ- 
ings; they renounced the holy trinity of the literary faith. 
And when at length, through Holland's, Peguy's, and 
Snares' tardily achieved fame, the "Cahiers" had come 
into its own, its publication was discontinued. But it 
remains an imperishable monument of French idealism 
and artistic comradeship. 

A third time Holland's intellectual ardor led him to 
try his mettle in the field of action. A third time, for a 
space, did he enter into a comradeship that he might 
fashion life out of life. A group of young men had 


come to recognize the futility and harmfulness of the 
French boulevard drama, whose central topic is the eter- 
nal recurrence of adultery issuing from the tedium of 
bourgeois existence. They determined upon an attempt 
to restore the drama to the people, to the proletariat, and 
thus to furnish it with new energies. Impetuously Rol- 
land threw himself into the scheme, writing essays, mani- 
festoes, an entire book. Above all, he contributed a 
series of plays conceived in the spirit of the French revo- 
lution and composed for its glorification. Jaures de- 
livered a speech introducing Danton to the French work- 
ers. The other plays were likewise staged. But the 
daily press, obviously scenting a hostile force, did its 
utmost to chill the enthusiasm. The other participators 
soon lost their zeal, so that ere long the fine impetus of 
the young group was spent. Rolland was left alone, 
richer in experience and disillusionment, but not poorer! 
in faith. 

Although by sentiment Rolland is attached to all 
great movements, the inner man has ever remained free 
from ties. He gives his energies to help others' efforts, 
but never follows blindly in others' footsteps. Whatever 
creative work he has attempted in common with others 
has been a disappointment; the fellowship has been 
clouded by the universality of human frailty. The 
Dreyfus case was subordinated to political scheming; the 
People's Theater was wrecked by jealousies; Rolland's 
plays,, written for the workers, were staged but for a 
night; his wedded life came to a sudden and disastrous 
end — hue nothing could shatter his idealism. When 


contemporary existence could not be controlled by the 
forces of the spirit, he still retained his faith in the 
spirit. In hours of disillusionment he called up the 
images of the great ones of the earth, who conquered 
mourning by action, who conquered life by art. He left 
the theater, he renounced the professorial chair, he re- 
tired from the world. Since life repudiated his single- 
hearted endeavors he would transfigure life in gracious 
pictures. His disillusionments had but been further 
experience. During the ensuing ten years of solitude he 
wrote Jean Christophe, a work which in the ethical sense 
is more truly real than reality itself, a work which em- 
bodies the living faith of his generation. 



FOR a brief season the Parisian public was fa- 
miliar with Remain Rolland's name as that of 
a musical expert and a promising dramatist. 
Thereafter for years he disappeared from view, for the 
capital of France excels all others in its faculty for mer- 
ciless forgetfulness. He was never spoken of even in 
literary circles, although poets and other men of letters 
might be expected to be the best judges of the values in 
which they deal. If the curious reader should care to 
turn over the reviews and anthologies of the period, to 
examine the histories of literature, he will find not a 
word of the man who had already written a dozen plays, 
had composed wonderful biographies, and had published 
six volumes of Jean Christophe. The "Cahiers de la 
quinzaine" were at once the birthplace and the tomb of 
his writings. He was a stranger in the city at the very 
time when he was describing its mental life with a pic- 
turesqueness and comprehensiveness which has never 
been equaled. At forty years of age, he had won 
neither fame nor pecuniary reward; he seemed to pos- 
sess no influence; he was not a living force. At the 
opening of the twentieth century, like Charles Louis 



Philippe, like Verhaeren, like Claudel, and like Suares, 
in truth the strongest writers of the time, Holland re- 
mained unrecognized when he was at the zenith of his 
creative powers. In his own person he experienced the 
fate which he has depicted in such moving terms, the 
tragedy of French idealism. 

A period of seclusion is, however, needful as a pre- 
liminary to labors of such concentration. Force must 
develop in solitude before it can capture the world. 
Only a man prepared to ignore the public, only a man 
animated with heroic indifference to success, could ven- 
ture upon the forlorn hope of planning a romance in ten 
volumes; a French romance which, in an epoch of ^ 
exacerbated nationalism, was to have a German for its 
hero. In such detachment alone could this universality 
of knowledge shape itself into a literary creation. No- 
where but aimd tranquillity undisturbed by the noise of 
the crowd could a work of such vast scope be brought to 

For a decade Holland seemed to have vanished from 
the French literary world. Mystery enveloped him, the 
mystery of toil. Through all these long years his . 
cloistered labors represented the hidden stage of the 
chrysalis, from which the imago is to issue in winged 
glory. It was a period of much suffering, a period of 
silence, a period characterized by knowledge of the 
world — the knowledge of a man whom the world did not 
yet know. 



TWO tiny little rooms, attic rooms in the heart of 
Paris, on the fifth story, reached by a winding 
wooden stair. From below comes the muffled 
roar, as of a distant storm, rising from the Boulevard 
Montparnasse. Often a glass shakes on the table as a 
heavy motor omnibus thunders by. The windows com- 
mand a view across less lofty houses into an old convent 
garden. In springtime the perfume of flowers is wafted 
through the open window. No neighbors on this story; 
no service. Nothing beyond the help of the concierge, 
an old woman who protects the hermit from untimely 

The workroom is full of books. They climb up the 
walls, and are piled in heaps on the floor; they spread 
like creepers over the window seat, over the chairs and 
the table. Interspersed are manuscripts. The walls are 
adorned with a few engravings. We see photographs of 
friends, and a bust of Beethoven. The deal table stands 
near the window; two chairs, a small stove. Nothing 
costly in the narrow cell; nothing which could tempt to 
repose; nothing to encourage sociability. A student's 
den ; a little prison of labor. 



Amid the books sits the gentle monk of this cell, 
soberly clad like a clergyman. He is slim, tall, deli- 
cate looking; his complexion is sallow, like that of one 
who is rarely in the open. His face is lined, suggesting 
that here is a worker who spends few hours in sleep. 
His whole aspect is somewhat fragile — the sharply-cut 
profile which no photograph seems to reproduce per- 
fectly; the small hands, his hair silvering already behind 
the lofty brow; his moustache falling softly like a 
shadow over the thin lips. Everything about him 
is gentle: his voice in its rare utterances; his figure 
which, even in repose, shows the traces of his sedentary 
life; his gestures, which are always restrained; his slow 
gait. His whole personality radiates gentleness. The 
casual observer might derive the impression that the 
man is debilitated or extremely fatigued, were it not 
for the way in which the eyes flash ever and again from 
beneath the slightly reddened eyelids, to relapse always 
into their customary expression of kindliness. The eyes 
have a blue tint as of deep waters of exceptional purity. 
That is why no photograph can convey a just impres- 
sion of one in whose eyes the whole force of his soul 
seems to be concentrated. The face is inspired with 
life by the glance, just as the small and frail body 
radiates the mysterious energy of work. 

This work, the unceasing labor of a spirit imprisoned 
in a body, imprisoned within narrow walls during all 
these years, who can measure it? The written books 
are but a fraction of it. The ardor of our recluse is 
all-embracing, reaching forth to include the cultures of 


every tongue, the history, philosophy, poesy, and music 
of every nation. He is in touch with all endeavors. 
He receives sketches, letters, and reviews concerning 
everything. He is one who thinks as he writes, speak- 
ing to himself and to others while his pen moves over 
the paper. With his small, upright handwriting in 
which all the letters are clearly and powerfully formed, 
he permanently fixes the thoughts that pass through his 
mind, whether spontaneously arising or coming from 
without; he records the airs of past and recent times, 
noting them down in manuscript books; he makes ex- 
tracts from newspapers, drafts plans for future work; 
his thriftily collected hoard of these autographic intel- 
lectual goods is enormous. The flame of his labor 
burns unceasingly. Rarely does he take more than five 
hours' sleep; seldom does he go for a stroll in the ad- 
joining Luxembourg; infrequently does a friend climb 
the five flights of winding stair for an hour's quiet talk; 
even such journeys as he undertakes are mostly for pur- 
poses of research. Repose signifies for him a change 
of occupation; to write letters instead of books, to read 
philosophy instead of poetry. His solitude is an ac- 
tive communing with the world. His free hours are his 
only holiday, stolen from the long days when he sits 
in the twilight at the piano, holding converse with the 
great masters of music, drawing melodies from other 
worlds into this confined space which is itself a world 
of the creative spirit. 



WE are in the year 1910. A motor is tearing 
along the Champs Elysees, outrunning the 
belated warnings of its own hooter. There 
is a cry, and a man who was incautiously crossing the 
street lies beneath the wheels. He is borne away 
wounded and with broken limbs, to be nursed back to 

Nothing can better exemplify the slenderness, as yet, 
of Romain Rolland's fame, than the reflection how 
little his death at this juncture would have signified to 
the literary world. There would have been a paragraph 
or two in the newspapers informing the public that the 
sometime professor of musical history at the Sorbonne 
had succumbed after being run over by a motor. A 
few, perhaps, would have remembered that fifteen years 
earlier this man Rolland had written promising dramas, 
and books on musical topics. Among the innumerable 
inhabitants of Paris, scarce a handful would have known 
anything of the deceased author. Thus ignored was Ro- 
main Rolland two years before he obtained a European 
reputation; thus nameless was he when he had finished 

most of the works which were to make him a leader of 



our generation — the dozen or so dramas, the biographies 
of the heroes, and the first eight volumes of Jean 

A wonderful thing is fame, wonderful its eternal ^ 
multiplicity. Every reputation has peculiar character- / 
istics, independent of the man to whom it attaches, and 
yet appertaining to him as his destiny. Fame may be S f A-^ti" 
wise and it may be foolish; it may be deserved and it \ 
may be undeserved. On the one hand it may be easily \ 
attained and brief, flashing transiently like a meteor; on \ 
the other hand it may be tardy, slow in blossoming, fol- / 
lowing reluctantly in the footsteps of the works. Some- / 
times fame is malicious, ghoulish, arriving too late, and/ 
battening upon corpses. 

Strange is the relationship between Rolland and fame. 
From early youth he was allured by its magic; but 
charmed by the thought of the only reputation that 
counts, the reputation that is based upon moral strength 
and ethical authority, he proudly and steadfastly re- 
nounced the ordinary amenities of cliquism and con- 
ventional intercourse. He knew the dangers and tempta- 
tions of power; he knew that fussy activity could grasp 
nothing but a cold shadow, and was impotent to seize the 
radiant light. Never, therefore, did he take any de- 
liberate step towards fame, never did he reach out his 
hand to fame, near to him as fame had been more than 
once in his life. Indeed, he deliberately repelled the 
oncoming footsteps by the publication of his scathing 
La foire sur la place, through which he permanently for- 
feited the favor of the Parisian press. What he writes 


of Jean Christophe applies perfectly to himself: "Le 
succes n'etait pas son but; son but etait la foi." [Not 
success, but faith was his goal.] 

Fame loved Rolland, who loved fame from afar, un- 
obtrusively. "It were pity," fame seemed to say, "to 
disturb this man's work. The seeds must lie for a while 
in the darkness, enduring patiently, until the time comes 
for germination." Reputation and the work were grow- 
ing in two different worlds, awaiting contact. A small 
community of admirers had formed after the publication 
of Beethoven. They followed Jean Christophe in his 
pilgrimage. The faithful of the '^'Cahiers de la quin- 
zaine'* won new friends. Without any help from the 
press, through the unseen influence of responsive sym- 
pathies, the circulation of his works grew. Transla- 
tions were published, Paul Seippel, the distinguished 
Swiss author, penned a comprehensive biography, 
newspapers had begun to print his name. The crown- 
Rolland had found many devoted admirers before the 
ing of his completed work by the Academy was nothing 
more than the sound of a trumpet summoning the armies 
of his admirers to a review. All at once accounts of 
Rolland broke upon the world like a flood, shortly be- 
fore he had attained his fiftieth year. In 1912 he was 
still unknown; in 1914 he had a wide reputation. With 
a cry of astonishment, a generation recognized its leader, 
and Europe became aware of the first product of the new 
universal European spirit. 

There is a mystical significance in Remain Rolland's 
rise to fame, just as in every event of his life. Fame 


came late to this man whom fame had passed by during 
the bitter years of mental distress and material need. 
Nevertheless it came at the rig^t hour, since it came f 
before the war. Holland's renown put a sword into his | 
hand. At the decisive mor ont he had power and a ; 
voice to speak for Europe. He stood on a pedestal, so | 
that he was visible above the medley. In truth fame ? 
was granted at a fitting time, when through suffering | 
and knowledge Rolland had grown ripe for his highest 
function, to assume his European responsibility. Repu- 
tation, and the power that reputation gives, came at a 
moment when the world of the courageous needed a 
man who should proclaim against the world itself the 
world's eternal message of brotherhood. 



THUS does Rolland's life pass from obscurity into 
the light of day. Progress is slow, but the 
impulsion comes from powerful energies. The 
movement towards the goal is not always obvious, 
and yet his life is associated as is none other with the 
disastrously impending destiny of Europe. Regarded 
from the outlook of fulfillment, we discern that all the 
ostensibly counteracting influences, the years of incon- 
spicuous and apparently vain struggle, have been neces- 
sary; we see that every incident has been symbolic. 
The career develops like a work of art, building itself 
up in a wise ordination of will and chance. We should 
take too mean a view of destiny, were we to think it 
the outcome of pure sport that this man hitherto unknown 
should become a moral force in the world during the 
very years when, as never before, there was need for 
one who would champion the things of the spirit. 

The year 1914 marks the close of Romain Rolland's 
private life. Henceforth his career belongs to the 
world; his biography becomes part of history; his per- 
sonal experiences can no longer be detached from his 
public activities. The solitary has been forced out of 



his workroom to accomplish his task in the world. The 
man whose existence has been so retired, must now live 
with doors and windows open. His every essay, his 
every letter, is a manifesto. His life from now onward 
shapes itself like a heroic drama. From the hour when 
his most cherished ideal, the unity of Europe, seemed ■ 
bent on its own destruction, he emerged from his re-f 
tirement to become a vital element of his time, an im- 
personal force, a chapter in the history of the European 
spirit. Just as little as Tolstoi's life can be detached, 
from his propagandist activities, just so little is there 
justification in this case for an attempt to distinguish be- 
tween the man and his influence. Since 1914, Romain 
Holland has been one with his ideal and one with the 
struggle for its realization. No longer is he author, 
poet, or artist; no longer does he belong to himself. He 
is the voice of Europe in the season of its most poignant 
agony. He has become the conscience of the world. 


Son but n'etait pas le succes; son 
but etait la foi. 
Jean Christophe, "La Revoke." 



ROMAIN HOLLAND'S work cannot be under- 
stood without an understanding of the epoch in 
which that work came" into being. For here 
we have a passion that springs from the weariness of 
an entire country, a faith that springs from the disil- 
lusionment of a humiliated nation. The shadow of 1870 
was cast across the youth of the French author. The \ 
significance and greatness of his work taken as a whole 
depend upon the way in which it constitutes a spiritual 
bridge between one great war and the next. It arises 
from a blood-stained earth and a storm-tossed horizon 
on one side, reaching across on the other to the new 
struggle and the new spirit. 

It originates in gloom. A land defeated in war is 
like a man who has lost his god. Divine ecstasy is sud- 
denly replaced by dull exhaustion; a fire that blazed 
in millions is extinguished, so that nothing but ash and 
cinder remain. There is a sudden collapse of all values, i ^ (j»> 
Enthusiasm has become meaningless; death is purpose- j 
less ; the deeds, which but yesterday were deemed heroic, I 
are now looked upon as follies; faith is a fraud; belief 
in oneself, a pitiful illusion. The impulse to fellowship j 
fades; every one fights for his own hand, evades respon- 




sibility that he may throw it upon his neighbor, thinks 
only of profit, utility, and personal advantage. Lofty 
aspirations are killed by an infinite weariness. Nothing 
^ is so utterly destructive to the moral energy of the masses 
"nv I as a defeat; nothing else degrades and weakens to the 
same extent the whole spiritual poise of a nation. 

Such was the condition of France after 1870; the 
country was mentally tired; it had become a land with- 
out a leader. The best among its imaginative writers 
could give no help. They staggered for a while, as if 
stunned by the bludgeoning of the disaster. Then, as 
the first eff^ects passed off, they reentered their old paths 
I which led them into a purely literary field, remote and 
-I ever remoter from the destinies of their nation. It is 
/ not within the power of men already mature to make 
headway against a national catastrophe. Zola, Flau- 
bert, Anatole France, and Maupassant, needed all their 
strength to keep themselves erect on their own feet. 
They could give no support to their nation. Their ex- 
periences had made them skeptical; they no longer pos- 
sessed sufficient faith to give a new faith to the French 
people. But the younger writers, those who had no 
personal memories of the disaster, those who had not 
witnessed the actual struggle and had merely grown up 
amid the spiritual corpses left upon the battlefield, those 
who looked upon the ravaged and tormented soul of 
France, could not succumb to the influences of this weari- 
ness. The young cannot live without faith, cannot 
breathe in the moral stagnation of a materialistic world. 
For them, life and creation mean the lighting up of 


faith, that mystically burning faith which glows un- 
quenchably in every new generation, glows even among 
the tombs of the generation which has passed away. To 
the newcomers, the defeat is no more than one of the 
primary factors of their experience, the most urgent of 
the problems their art must take into account. They 
feel that they are naught unless they prove able to re- 
store this France, torn and bleeding after the struggle. 
It is their mission to provide a new faith for this skep- 
tically resigned people. Such is the task for their ro- 
bust energies, such the goal of their aspiration. Not 
by chance do we find that among the best in defeated 
nations a new idealism invariably springs to life; that 
the poets of such peoples have but one aim, to bring 
solace to their nation that the sense of defeat may be 

How can a vanquished nation be solaced? How can 
the sting of defeat be soothed? The writer must be 
competent to divert his readers' thoughts from the pres- 
ent; he must fashion a dialectic of defeat which shall 
replace despair by hope. These young authors en- 
deavored to bring help in two different ways. Some 
pointed towards the future, saying: "Cherish hatred; 
last time we were beaten, next time we shall conquer." 
This was the argument of the nationalists, and there is 
significance in the fact that it was predominantly voiced 
by the sometime companions of Rolland, by Maurice 
Barres, Paul Claudel, and Peguy. For thirty years, 
with the hammers of verse and prose, they fashioned the 
wounded pride of the French nation that it might become 



a weapon to strike the hated foe to the heart. For thirty 
years they talked of nothing but yesterday's defeat and 
to-morrow's triumph. Ever afresh did they tear open 
the old wound. Again and again, when the young were 
inclining towards reconciliation, did these writers in- 
flame their minds anew with exhortations in the heroic 
vein. From hand to hand they passed the unquench- 
able torch of revenge, ready and eager to fling it into 
Europe's powder barrel. 
\ The other type of idealism, that of Rolland, less cla- 
mant and long ignored, looked in a very different direc- 
tion for solace, turning its gaze not towards the im- 
mediate future but towards eternity. It did not prom- 
ise a new victory, but showed that false values had been 
used in estimating defeat. For writers of this school, 
for the pupils of Tolstoi, force is no argument for the 
spirit, the externals of success provide no criterion of 
value for the soul. In their view, the individual does 
not conquer when the generals of his nation march to 
victory through a hundred provinces; the individual is 
not vanquished when the army loses a thousand pieces 
of artillery. The individual gains the victory, only 
when he is free from illusion, and when he has no part 
in any wrong committed by his nation. In their isola- 
tion, those who hold such views have continually en- 
deavored to induce France, not indeed to forget her de- 
feat, but to make of that defeat a source of moral great- 
ness, to recognize the worth of the spiritual seed which 
[lias germinated on the blood-drenched battlefields. Of 
Such a character, in Jean Christophe, are the words of 


Olivier, the spokesman of all young Frenchmen of this 
way of thinking. Speaking to his German friend, he 
says: "Fortunate the defeat, blessed the disaster! 
Not for us to disavow it, for we are its children. ... It 
is you, my dear Christopher, who have refashioned us. 
. . . The defeat, little as you may have wished it, has 
done us more good than evil. You have rekindled the 
torch of our idealism, have given a fresh impetus to our 
science, and have reanimated our faith. . . . We owe to 
you the reawakening of our racial conscience. . . . Pic- 
ture the young Frenchmen who were bom in houses of 
mourning under the shadow of defeat; who were nour- 
ished on gloomy thoughts; who were trained to be the 
instruments of a bloody, inevitable, and perhaps use- 
less revenge. Such was the lesson impressed upon their 
minds from their earliest years: they were taught that 
there is no justice in this world ; that might crushes right. 
A revelation of this character will either degrade a 
child's soul for ever, or will permanently uplift it." 
And Rolland continues: "Defeat refashions the elite 
of a nation, segregating the single-minded and the strong, 
and making them more single-minded and stronger than 
before; but the others are hastened by defeat down the 
path leading to destruction. Thus are the masses of the 
people . . . separated from the elite, leaving these free 
to continue their forward march." 

For Rolland this elite, reconciling France with the 
world, will in days to come fulfil the mission of his 
nation. In ultimate analysis, his thirty years' work may 
be regarded as one continuous attempt to prevent a new 


war — ^to hinder the revival of the horrible cleavage be- 
tween victory and defeat. His aim has been, not to 
teach a new national pride, but to inculcate a new 
^^ heroism of self-conquest, a new faith in justice. 

Thus from the same source, from the darkness of de- 
feat, there have flowed two different streams of idealism. 
In speech and writing, an invisible struggle has been 
waged for the soul of the new generation. The facts 
of history turned the scale in favor of Maurice Barres. 
The year 1914 marked the defeat of the ideas of Romain 
Rolland. Thus defeat was not merely an experience 
imposed on him in youth, for defeat has likewise been 
the tragic substance of his years of mature manhood. 
But it has always been his peculiar talent to create out of 
defeat the strongest of his works, to draw from resig- 
nation new ardors, to derive from disillusionment a pas- 
sionate faith. He has ever been the poet of the van- 
quished, the consoler of the despairing, the dauntless 
guide towards that world where suffering is transmuted 
into positive values and where misfortune becomes a 
source of strength. That which was born out of a trag- 
ical time, the experience of a nation under the heel of 
destiny, Rolland has made available for all times and 
all nations. 



ROLLAND realized his mission early in his 
career. The hero of one of his first writings, 
the Girondist Hugot in Le triomphe de la 
raison, discloses the author's own ardent faith when he 
declares: "Our first duty is to be great, and to defend 
greatness on earth." 

This will to greatness lies hidden at the heart of all 
personal greatness. What distinguishes Romain Rol- 
land from others, what distinguishes the beginner of 
those days and the fighter of the thirty years that have 
since elapsed, is that in art he never creates anything 
isolated, anything with a purely literary or casual scope. 
Invariably his efforts are directed towards the loftiest 
moral aims; he aspires towards eternal forms; strives 
to fashion the monumental. His goal is to produce a 
fresco, to paint a comprehensive picture, to achieve an 
epic completeness. He does not choose his literary col- 
leagues as models, but takes as examples the heroes of 
the ages. He tears his gaze away from Paris, from the 
movement of contemporary life, which he regards as 
trivial. Tolstoi, the only modem who seems to him 
poietic, as the great men of an earlier day were poietic, 



is his teacher and master. Despite his humility, 
he cannot but feel that his own creative impulse makes 
him more closely akin to Shakespeare's historical plays, 
to Tolstoi's War and Peace, to Goethe's universality, to 
Balzac's wealth of imagination, to Wagner's promethean 
art, than he is akin to the activities of his contemporaries, 
whose energies are concentrated upon material success. 
He studies his exemplars' lives, to draw courage from 
their courage; he examines their works, in order that, 
i using their measure, he may lift his own achievements 
above the commonplace and the relative. His zeal for 
I the absolute is almost a religion. Without venturing to 
compare himself with them, he thinks always of the in- 
comparably great, of the meteors that have fallen out of 
eternity into our own day. He dreams of creating a 
Sistine of symphonies, dramas like Shakespeare's his- 
tories, an epic like War and Peace; not of writing a new 
Madame Bovary or tales like those of Maupassant. The 
timeless is his true world; it is the star towards which 
his creative will modestly and yet passionately aspires. 
Among latter-day Frenchmen none but Victor Hugo and 
Balzac have had this glorious fervor for the monu- 
mental; among the Germans none has had it since Rich- 
ard Wagner; among contemporary Englishmen, none 
perhaps but Thomas Hardy. 

Neither talent nor diligence suffices unaided to inspire 
such an urge towards the transcendent. A moral force 
must be the lever to shake a spiritual world to its foun- 
dations. The moral force which Rolland possesses is a 
courage unexampled in the history of modem litera- 


ture. The quality that first made his attitude on the war 
manifest to the world, the heroism which led him to 
take his stand alone against the sentiments of an entire 
epoch, had, to the discerning, already been made appar- 
ent in the writings of the inconspicuous beginner a 
quarter of a century earlier. A man of an easy-going 
and conciliatory nature is not suddenly transformed 
into a hero. Courage, like every other power of the 
soul, must be steeled and tempered by many trials. 
'Among all those of his generation, RoUand had long 
been signalized as the boldest by his preoccupation with 
mighty designs. Not merely did he dream, like ambi- \ 
tious schoolboys, of Iliads and pentalogies; he actually 
created them in the fevered world of to-day, working in 
isolation, with the dauntless spirit of past centuries. 
Not one of his plays had been staged, not a publisher 
had accepted any of his books, when he began a dra- 
matic cycle as comprehensive as Shakespeare's histories. 
He had as yet no public, no name, when he began his 
colossal romance, Jean Christophe. He embroiled him- 
self with the theaters, when in his manifesto Le theatre 
du peuple he censured the triteness and commercialism 
of the contemporary drama. He likewise embroiled 
himself with the critics, when, in La foire sur la place, 
he pilloried the cheapjackery of Parisian journalism and 
French dilettantism with a severity which had been un- 
known westward of the Rhine since the publication of 
Balzac's Les illusions perdues. This young man whose 
financial position was precarious, who had no powerful 
associates, who had found no favor with newspaper edi- 


tors, publishers, or theatrical managers, proposed to re- 
mold the spirit of his generation, simply by his own will 
and the power of his own deeds. Instead of aiming at a 
neighboring goal, he always worked for a distant future, 
worked with that religious faith in greatness which was 
displayed by the medieval architects — men who planned 
cathedrals for the honor of God, recking little whether 
they themselves would survive to see the completion of 
their designs. This courage, which draws its strength 
from the religious elements of his nature, is his sole 
helper. The watchword of his life may be said to have 
been the phrase of William the Silent, prefixed by Hol- 
land as motto to Aert: "I have no need of approval to 
give me hope; nor of success, to brace me to persever- 



THE will to greatness involuntarily finds expres- 
sion in characteristic forms. Rarely does Rol- 
land attempt to deal with any isolated topic, and 
he never concerns himself about a mere episode in feel- 
ing or in history. His creative imagination is attracted 
solely by elemental phenomena, by the great "courants 
de foi," whereby with mystical energy a single idea is 
suddenly carried into the minds of millions of individ- 
uals; whereby a country, an epoch, a generation, will 
become kindled like a firebrand, and will shed light over 
the environing darkness. He lights his own poetic flame 
at the great beacons of mankind, be they individuals of 
genius or inspired epochs, Beethoven or the Renaissance, 
Tolstoi or the Revolution, Michelangelo or the Crusades. 
Yet for the artistic control of such phenomena, widely 
ranging, deeply rooted in the cosmos, overshadowing en- 
tire eras, more is requisite than the raw ambition and 
fitful enthusiasm of an adolescent. If a mental state 
of this nature is to fashion anything that shall endure, 
it must do so in boldly conceived forms. The cultural 
history of inspired and heroic periods, cannot be limned 
in fugitive sketches; careful grounding is indispensable. ' 




Above all does this apply to monumental architecture. 
Here we must have a spacious site for the display of the 
structures, and terraces from which a general view can 
be secured. 

That is why, in all his works, Rolland needs so much 
room. He desires to be just to every epoch as to every 
individual. He never wishes to display a chance sec- 
tion, but would fain exhibit the entire cycle of happen- 
ings. He would fain depict, not episodes of the French 
revolution, but the Revolution as a whole; not the his- 
tory of Jean Christophe Krafft, the individual modem 
musician, but the history of contemporary Europe. He 
aims at presenting, not only the central force of an era, 
but likewise the manifold counterforces; not the action 
alone, but the reaction as well. For Rolland, breadth of 
scope is a moral necessity rather than an artistic. Since 
he would be just in his enthusiasm, since in the parlia- 
ment of his work he would give every idea its spokes- 
man, he is compelled to write many-voiced choruses. 
That he may exhibit the Revolution in all its aspects, its 
rise, its troubles, its political activities, its decline, and 
its fall, he plans a cycle of ten dramas. The Renais- 
sance needs a treatment hardly less extensive. Jean 
Christophe must have three thousand pages. To Rol- 
land, the intermediate form, the variety, seems no less 
important than the generic type. He is aware of the 
danger of dealing exclusively with types. What would 
Jean Christophe be worth to us, if with the figure of the 
hero there were merely contrasted that of Olivier as a 
typical Frenchman; if we did not find subsidiary figures, 


good and evil, grouped in numberless variations around 
the symbolic dominants. If we are to secure a gen- 
uinely objective view, many witnesses must be sum- 
moned; if we are to form a just judgment, the whole 
wealth of facts must be taken into consideration. It 
is this ethical demand for justice to the small no less 
than to the great which makes spacious forms essential 
to Rolland. This is why his creative artistry demands 
an all-embracing outlook, a cyclic method of presenta- 
tion. Each individual work in these cycles, however 
circumscribed it may appear at the first glance, is no 
more than a segment, whose full significance becomes ap- 
parent only when we grasp its relationship to the focal 
thought, to justice as the moral center of gravity, as a 
point whence all ideas, words, and actions appear equi- , 
distant from the center of universal humanity. The j 
circle, the cycle, which unrestingly environs all its 
wealth of content, wherein discords are harmoniously re- 
solved — to Rolland, ever the musician, this symbol of 
sensory justice is the favorite and wellnigh exclusive 

The work of Romain Rolland during the last thirty 
years comprises five such creative cycles. Too extended 
in their scope, they have not all been completed. The 
first, a dramatic cycle, which in the spirit of Shakespeare 
was to represent the Renaissance as an integral unit 
much as Gobineau desired to represent it, remained a 
fragment. Even the individual dramas have been cast 
aside by Rolland as inadequate. The Tragedies de la 
foi form the second cycle; the Theatre de la revolution 


forms the third. Both are unfinished, but the frag- 
ments are of imperishable value. The fourth cycle, the 
Vie des hommes illustres, a cycle of biographies planned 
to form as it were a frieze round the temple of the in- 
visible God, is likewise incomplete. The ten volumes of 
Jean Christophe alone succeed in rounding off the full 
circle of a generation, uniting grandeur and justice in 
the foreshadowed concord. 

Above these five creative cycles there looms another 
and later cycle, recognizable as yet only in its begin- 
ning and its end, its origination and its recurrence. It 
will express the harmonious connection of a manifold 
existence with a lofty and universal life-cycle in Goethe's 
sense, a cycle wherein life and poesy, word and writing, 
character and action, themselves become works of art. 
But this cycle still glows in the process of fashioning. 
We feel its vital heat radiating into our mortal world. 



THE young man of twenty-two, just liberated from 
the walls of the Parisian seminary, fired with 
the genius of music and with that of Shake- 
speare's enthralling plays, had in Italy his first expe- 
rience of the world as a sphere of freedom. He had 
learned history from documents and syllabuses. Now 
history looked at him with living eyes out of statues 
and figures; the Italian cities, the centuries, seemed to 
move as if on a stage under his impassioned gaze. Give 
them but speech, these sublime memories, and history 
would become poesy, the past would grow into a peopled 
tragedy. During his first hours in the south he was 
in a sublime intoxication. Not as historian but as poet 
did he first see Rome and Florence. 

"Here," he said to himself in youthful fervor, "here 
is the greatness for which I have yearned. Here, at 
least, it used to be, in the days of the Renaissance, when 
these cathedrals grew heavenward amid the storms of 
battle, and when Michelangelo and Raphael were adorn- 
ing the walls of the Vatican, what time the popes were 
no less mighty in spirit than the masters of art — for in 
that epoch, after centuries of interment with the antique 



statues, the heroic spirit of ancient Greece had been re- 
vived in a new Europe." His imagination conjured up 
the superhuman figures of that earlier day; and of a 
sudden, Shakespeare, the friend of his first youth, filled 
his mind once more. Simultaneously, as I have already 
recounted, witnessing a number of performances by Er- 
nesto Rossi, he came to realize his own dramatic talent. 
Not now, as of old, in the Clamecy loft, was he chiefly al- 
lured by the gentle feminine figures. The strongest ap- 
peal, to his early manhood, was exercised by the fierce- 
ness of the more powerful characters, by the penetrating 
truth of a knowledge of mankind, by the stormy tumult 
of the soul. In France, Shakespeare is hardly known at 
all by stage presentation, and but very little in prose 
translation. Rolland, however, now attained as intimate 
an acquaintanceship with Shakespeare as had been pos- 
sessed a hundred years earlier, almost at the same age, 
by Goethe when he conceived his Oration on Shake- 
speare. This new inspiration showed itself in a vig- 
orous creative impulse. Rolland penned a series of 
dramas dealing with the great figures of the past, work- 
ing with the fervor of the beginner, and with that sense 
of newly acquired mastery which was felt by the Ger- 
mans of the Sturm und Drang era. 

These plays remained unpublished, at first owing to 
the disfavor of circumstances, but subsequently because 
the author's ripening critical faculty made him with- 
hold them from the world. The first, entitled Orsino^ 
was written at Rome in 1890. Next, in the halcyon 
clime of Sicily, he composed Empedocles, uninfluenced 


by Holderlin's ambitious draft, of which Rolland heard 
first from Malwida von Meysenbug. In the same year, 
1891, he wrote Gli Baglioni. His return to Paris did 
not interrupt this outpouring, for in 1892 he wrote two 
plays, Caligula, and Niobe. From his wedding jour- 
ney to the beloved Italy in 1893 he returned with a new 
Renaissance drama, Le siege de Mantoue. This is the 
only one of the early plays which the author acknow- 
ledges to-day, though by an unfortunate mischance the 
manuscript has been lost. At length turning his atten- 
tion to French history, he wrote Saint Louis (1893), the 
first of his Tragedies de la foi. Next came Jeanne de 
Piennes (1894), which remains unpublished. . . . Aert 
(1895), the second of the Tragedies de la foi, was the 
first of Rolland's plays to be staged. There now ( 1896- 
1902) followed the four dramas of the Theatre de la 
revolution. In 1900 he wrote La Montespan and Les 
trois amoureuses. 

Thus before the era of the more important works there 
were composed no less than twelve dramas, equaling in 
bulk the entire dramatic output of Schiller, Kleist, or 
Hebbel. The first eight of these were never either 
printed or staged. Except for the appreciation by his 
confidant Malwida von Meysenbug in Der Lehens Abend 
einer Idealistin (a connoisseur's tribute to their artistic 
merits), not a word has ever been said about them. 

With a single exception. One of the plays was read 
on a classical occasion by one of the greatest French 
actors of the day, but the reminiscence is a painful one. 


Gabriel Monod, who from being Rolland's teacher had 
become his friend, noting Malwida von Meysenbug's en- 
thusiasm, gave three of Rolland's pieces to Mounet-Sully, 
who was delighted with them. The actor submitted them 
to the Comedie Frangaise, and in the reading committee 
he fought desperately on behalf of the unknown, whose 
dramatic talent was more obvious to him, the comedian, 
than it was to the men of letters. Orsino and Gli Bag- 
lioni were ruthlessly rejected, but Niobe was read to the 
committee. This was a momentous incident in Rol- 
land's life ; for the first time, fame seemed close at hand. 
Mounet-Sully read the play. Holland was present. 
The reading took two hours, and for a further two min- 
utes the young author's fate hung in the balance. Not 
yet, however, was celebrity to come. The drama was 
refused, to relapse into oblivion. It was not even ac- 
corded the lesser grace of print; and of the dozen or 
so dramatic works which the dauntless author penned 
during the next decade, not one found its way on to the 
boards of the national theater. 

We know no more than the names of these early 
works, and are unable to judge their worth. But when 
we study the later plays we may deduce the conclusion 
that in the earlier ones a premature flame, raging too 
hotly, burned itself out. If the dramas which first ap- 
peared in the press charm us by their maturity and con- 
centration, they depend for these qualities upon the fate 
which left their predecessors unknown. Their calm is 
built upon the passion of those which were sacrificed 
unborn; they owe their orderly structure to the heroic 


zeal of their martyred brethren. All true creation grows \ 

out of the dark humus of rejected creations. Of none is ; 

it more true than of Romain Rolland that his work bios- j 
soms upon the soil of renunciation. 



Saint Louis. Aert. 1895-1898 

TWENTY years after their first composition, re- 
publishing the forgotten dramas of his youth 
under the title Les tragedies de la foi (1913), 
Rolland alluded in the preface to the tragical melan- 
choly of the epoch in which they were composed. "At 
that time," he writes, "we were much further from our 
goal, and far more isolated." The elder brothers of 
Jean Christophe and Olivier, "less robust though not less 
fervent in the faith," had found it harder to defend their 
beliefs, to maintain their idealism at its lofty level, than 
did the youth of the new day, living in a stronger France, 
a freer Europe. Twenty years earlier, the shadow of 
defeat still lay athwart the land. These heroes of the 
French spirit had been compelled, even within them- 
selves, to fight the evil genius of the race, to combat 
' doubts as to the high destinies of their nation, to strug- 
gle against the lassitude of the vanquished. Then was 
jito be heard the cry of a petty era lamenting its van- 
1[ ished greatness; it aroused no echo from the stage or 

from the people; it wasted itself in the unresponsive 



skies — and yet it was the expression of an undying faith 
in life. 

Closely akin to this ardor is the faith voiced by Hol- 
land's dramatic cycle, though the plays deal with such 
different epochs, and are so diverse in the range of their 
ideas. He wishes to depict the "courants de foi," the 
mysterious streams of faith, at a time when a flame of 
spiritual enthusiasm is spreading through an entire na- 
tion, when an idea is flashing from mind to mind, in- 
volving unnumbered thousands in the storm of an illu- 
sion; when the calm of the soul is suddenly ruffled 
by heroic tumult; when the word, the faith, the ideal, 
though ever invisible and unattainable, transfuses the 
inert world and lifts it towards the stars. It matters 
nothing in ultimate analysis what idea fires the souls 
of men, whether the idea be that of Saint Louis for the 
holy sepulcher and Christ's realm, or that of Aert for the 
fatherland, or that of the Girondists for freedom. The 
ostensible goal is a minor matter; the essence of such 
movements is the wonder-working faith; it is this which 
assembles a people for crusades into the east, which 
summons thousands to death for the nation, which makes 
leaders throw themselves willingly under the guillo- 
tine. "Toute la vie est dans I'essor," the reality of life 
is found in its impetus, as Verhaeren says; that alone is 
beautiful which is created in the enthusiasm of faith. 
We are not to infer that these early heroes, born out of 
due time, must have succumbed to discouragement since 
they failed to reach their goal; one and all they had to 
bow their souls to the influences of a petty time. That 


is why Saint Louis died without seeing Jerusalem; why 
Aert, fleeing from bondage, found only the eternal free- 
dom of death; why the Girondists were trampled be- 
neath the heels of the mob. These men had the true 
^ faith, that faith which does not demand realization in 
< ^'this world. In widely separated centuries, and against 
different storms of time, they were the banner bearers of 
the same ideal, whether they carried the cross or held 
the sword, whether they wore the cap of liberty or the 
visored helm. They were animated with the same en- 
thusiasm for the unseen; they had the same enemy, call 
it cowardice, call it poverty of spirit, call it the supine- 
ness of a weary age. When destiny refused them the 
externals of greatness, they created greatness in their 
own souls. Amid unheroic environments they displayed 
the perennial heroism of the undaunted will ; the triumph 
II of the spirit which, when animated with faith, can prove 
' victorious over time. 

The significance, the lofty aim, of these early plays, 
was their intention to recall to the minds of contempora- 
ries the memory of forgotten brothers in the faith, to 
arouse for the service of the spirit and not for the ends 
of brute force that idealism which ever burgeons from 
the imperishable seed of youth. Already we discern 
the entire moral purport of Holland's later work, the 
endeavor to change the world by the force of inspira- 
^ tion. "Tout est bien qui exalte la vie." Everything 
which exalts life is good. This is Holland's confession 
of faith, as it is that of his own Olivier. Ardor alone 
can create vital realities. There is no defeat over which 


the will cannot triumph; there is no sorrow above which 
a free spirit cannot soar. Who wills the unattainable, 
is stronger than destiny; even his destruction in this mor- 
tal world is none the less a mastery of fate. The tragedy 
of his heroism kindles fresh enthusiasm, which seizes the 
standard as it slips from his grasp, to raise it anew and 
bear it onward through the ages. 





THIS epic of King Louis IX is a drama of religious 
exaltation, born of the spirit of music, an adap- 
tation of the Wagnerian idea of elucidating an- 
cestral sagas in works of art. It was originally de- 
signed as an opera. Holland actually composed an over- 
ture to the work ; but this, like his other musical compo- 
sitions, remains unpublished. Subsequently he was 
satisfied with lyrical treatment in place of music. We 
find no touch of Shakespearean passion in these gentle 
pictures. It is a heroic legend of the saints, in dramatic 
form. The scenes remind us of a phrase of Flaubert's 
in La legende de Saint Julien F Hospitaller, in that they 
are "written as they appear in the stained-glass windows 
of our churches." The tints are delicate, like those of 
the frescoes in the Pantheon, where Puvis de Chavannes 
depicts another French saint, Sainte Genevieve watching 
over Paris. The soft moonlight playing on the saint's 
figure in the frescoes is identical with the light which in 
Holland's drama shines like a halo of goodness round 
the head of the pious king of France. 



The music of Parsifal seems to sound faintly through 
the work. We trace the lineaments of Parsifal himself 
in this monarch, to whom knowledge comes not through 
sympathy but through goodness, and who finds the aptest 
phrase to explain his own title to fame, saying: "Pour 
comprendre les autres, il ne faut qu'aimer" — To under- 
stand others, we need only love. His leading quality 
is gentleness, but he has so much of it that the strong 
grow weak before him; he has nothing but his faith, but 
this faith builds mountains of action. He neither can 
nor will lead his people to victory ; but he makes his sub- 
jects transcend themselves, transcend their own inertia 
and the apparently futile venture of the crusade, to at- 
tain faith. Thereby he gives the whole nation the great- 
ness which ever springs from self-sacrifice. In Saint 
Louis, Holland for the first time presents his favorite 
type, that of the vanquished victor. The king never 
reaches his goal, but "plus qu'il est ecrase par les choses 
plus il semble les dominer davantage" — the more he 
seems to be crushed by things, the more does he dominate 
them. When, like Moses, he is forbidden to set eyes on 
the promised land, when it proves to be his destiny "de 
mourir vaincu," to die conquered, as he draws his last 
breath on the mountain slope his soldiers at the summit, 
catching sight of the city which is the goal of their aspira- 
tions, raise an exultant shout. Louis knows that to one 
who strives for the unattainable the world can never give 
victory, but "il est beau lutter pour I'impossible quand 
I'impossible est Dieu" — it is glorious to fight for the 
unattainable when the unattainable is God. For the van- 


quished in such a struggle, the highest triumph is re- 
served. He has stirred up the weak in soul to do a deed 
whose rapture is denied to himself; from his own faith 
he has created faith in others; from his own spirit has 
issued the eternal spirit. 
r Rolland's first published work exhales the atmosphere 
of Christianity. Humility conquers force, faith con- 
quers the world, love conquers hatred; these eternal 
truths which have been incorporated in countless sayings 
and writings from those of the primitive Christians down 
to those of Tolstoi, are repeated once again by RoUand 
in the form of a legend of the saints. In his later works, 
however, with a freer touch, he shows that the power of 
/^ Vfaith is not tied to any particular creed.) The symboli- 
cal world, which is here used as a romanticist vehicle 
in which to enwrap his own idealism, is replaced by the 
environment of modern days. Thus we are taught that 
from Saint Louis and the crusades it is but a step to our 
own soul, if it desire "to be great and to defend great- 
ness on earth." 




AERT was written a year later than Saint Louis; 
more explicitly than the pious epic does it aim 
at restoring faith and idealism to the disheart- 
ened nation. Saint Louis is a heroic legend, a tender 
reminiscence of former greatness; AertisHie tragedy of 
the vanquished, and a passionate appeal to them to 
awaken. The stage directions express this aim clearly: 
"The scene is cast in an imaginary Holland of the seven- 
teenth century. We see a people broken by defeat and, 
which is much worse, debased thereby. The future pre- 
sents itself as a period of slow decadence, whose antici- 
pation definitively annuls the already exhausted energies. 
. . . The moral and political humiliations of recent 
years are the foundation of the troubles still in store." 

Such is the environment in which Holland places Aert, 
the young prince, heir to vanished greatness. This Hol- 
land is, of course, symbolical of the Third Republic. 
Fruitless attempts are made, by the temptations of loose 
living, by various artifices, by the instilling of doubt, to 
break the captive's faith in greatness, to undermine the 




one power that still sustains the debile body and the 
suffering soul. The hypocrites of his entourage do their 
utmost, with luxury, frivolity, and lies, to wean him from 
what he considers his high calling, which is to prove him- 
self worthy heir of a glorious past. He remains un- 
shaken. His tutor, Maitre Trojanus (a forerunner of 
Anatole France), all of whose qualities, kindliness, skep- 
ticism, energy, and wisdom, are but lukewarm, would 
like to make a Marcus Aurelius of his ardent pupil, one 
who thinks and renounces rather than one who acts. The 
lad proudly answers: "I pay due reverence to ideas, 
but I recognize something higher than they, moral gran- 
deur." In a laodicean age, he yearns for action. 

But action is force, struggle is blood. His gentle 
spirit desires peace; his moral will craves for the right. 
The youth has within him both a Hamlet and a Saint- 

/Just, both a vacillator and a zealot. He is a wraithlike 
double of Olivier, already able to reckon up all val- 
ues. The goal of Aert's youthful passion is still inde- 
terminate; this passion is nothing but a flame which 

i wastes itself in words and aspirations. He does not 
make the deed come at his beckoning; but the deed takes 
possession of him, dragging the weakling down with it 
into the depths whence there is no other issue than by 
death. From degradation he finds a last rescue, a path 
to moral greatness, his own deed, done for the sake of 
all. Surrounded by the scornful victors, calling to him 
"Too late," he answers proudly, "Not too late to be free," 
and plunges headlong out of life. 

This romanticist play is a piece of tragical Symbolism. 

AERT 85 

It reminds us a little of another youthful composition, 
the work of a poet who has now attained fame. I refer 
to Fritz von Unruh's Die Offiziere, in which the torment 
of enforced inactivity and repressed heroic will gives rise 
to warlike impulses as a means of spiritual enfranchise- 
ment. Like Unruh's hero, Aert in his outcry proclaims 
the torpor of his companions, voices his oppression amid 
the sultry and stagnant atmosphere of a time devoid of 
faith. Encompassed by a gray materialism, during the 
years when Zola and Mirbeau were at the zenith of their 
fame, the lonely Holland was hoisting the flag of the ideal 
over a humiliated land. 



WITH whole-souled faith the young poet 
uttered his first dramatic appeals in the 
heroic form, being mindful of Schiller's 
saying that fortunate epochs could devote themselves to 
the service of beauty, whereas in times of weakness it 
was necessary to lean upon the examples of past heroism^ 
RoUand had issued to his nation a summons to greatness. 
There was no answer. His conviction that a new im- 
petus was indispensable remaining unshaken, Rolland 
looked for the cause of this lack of response. He rightly 
discerned it, not in his own work, but in the refractori- 
ness of the age. Tolstoi, in his books and in the won- 
derful letter to Rolland, had been the first to make the 
young man realize the sterility of bourgeois art. Above 
^ all in the drama, its most sensual form of expression, that 
C art had lost touch with the moral and emotional forces of 
life. ; A clique of busy playwrights had monopolized the 
Parisian stage. Their eternal theme was adultery, in 
its manifold variations. They depicted petty erotic con- 
flicts, but never dealt with a universally human ethical 
problem. The audiences, badly counseled by the press, 

which deliberately fostered the public's intellectual 



lethargy, did not ask to be morally awakened, but merely 
to be amused and pleased. The theater was anything in 
the world other than "the moral institution" demanded 
by Schiller and championed by d'Alembert. No breath 
of passion found its way from such dramatic art as this 
into the heart of the nation; there was nothing but spin- 
drift scattered over the surface by the breeze. A great 
gulf was fixed between this witty and sensuous amuse- 
ment, and the genuinely creative and receptive energies 
of France. 

RoUand, led by Tolstoi and accompanied by enthusi- 
astic friends, realized the moral dangers of the situation. 
He perceived that dramatic art is worthless and destruc- 
tive when it lives a life remote from the people. Uncon- 
sciously in Aert he had heralded what he now formu- 
lated as a definite principle, that the people will be the 
first to understand genuinely heroic problems. The 
simple craftsman Claes in that play is the only member 
of the captive prince's circle who revolts against tepid 
submission, who bums at the disgrace inflicted on his 
fatherland. In other artistic forms than the drama, the ^^ . 

titanic forces surging up from the depths of the people ^niA^- ^ 
had already been recognized. Zola and the naturalists ^^ 

had depicted the tragical beauty of the proletariat ; Millet \/^^ 

and Meunier had given suctorial and sculptural repre- 
sentations of proletarians; socialism had unleashed the 
religious might of the collective consciousness. The 
theater alone, vehicle for the most direct working of art 
upon the common people, had been captured by the bour- 
geoisie, its tremendous possibilities for promoting a 


moral renascence being thereby cut off. Unceasingly 
did the drama practice the in-and-in breeding of sexual 
problems. In its pursuit of erotic trifles, it had over- 
looked the new social ideas, the most fundamental of 
modern times. It was in danger of decay because it no 
longer thrust its roots into the permanent subsoil of the 
nation. The anaemia of dramatic art, as Holland recog- 
nized, could be cured only by intimate association with 
the life of the people. The effeminateness of the French 
drama must be replaced by virility through vital contact 
with the masses. "Seul la seve populaire peut lui 
rendre la vie et la sante." If the theater aspires to be 
national, it must not merely minister to the luxury of the 
upper ten thousand. It must become the moral nutri- 
ment of the common people, and must draw fertility from 
the folk-soul. 

Holland's work during the next few years was an en- 
deavor to provide such a theater for the people. A few_ 
young men without influence or authority, strong only in 
the ardor and sincerity of their youthfulness, tried to 
bring this lofty idea to fruition, despite the utter indif- 
ference of the metropolis, and in defiance of the veiled 
hostility of the press. In their ''Revue dramatique^' 
they published manifestoes. They sought for actors, 
stages, and helpers. They wrote plays, formed commit- 
tees, sent dispatches to ministers of state. In their en- 
deavor to bridge the chasm between the bourgeois theater 
and the nation, they wrought with the fanatical zeal of 
the leaders of forlorn hopes. Holland was their chief. 
His manifesto, Le theatre du peuple, and his Theatre de 


la revolution, are enduring monuments of an attempt 
which temporarily ended in defeat, but which, like all 
his defeats, has been transmuted, humanly and artisti- 
cally, into a moral triumph. 




* ^^ I ^HE old era is finished; the new era is begin- 
ning." Rolland, writing in the "Revue dra- 
matique" in 1900, opened his appeal with 
these words by Schiller. The summons was two-fold, 
to the writers and to the people, that they should consti- 
tute a new unity, should form a people's theater. The 
stage and the plays were to belong to the people. Since 
the forces of the people are eternal and unalterable, art 
must accommodate itself to the people, not the people to 
art. This union must be perfected in the creative depths. 
It must not be a casual intimacy, but a permeation, a 
genetic wedding of souls. The people requires its own 
art, its own drama. As Tolstoi phrased it, the people 
must be the ultimate touchstone of all values. Its pow- 
erful, mystical, eternally religious energy of inspiration, 
must become more affirmative and stronger, so that art, 
which in its bourgeois associations has grown morbid and 
wan, can draw new vigor from the vigor of the people. 

To this end it is essential that the people should no 
longer be a chance audience, transiently patronized by 
friendly managers and actors. The popular perform- 
ances of the great theaters, such as have been customary 



in Paris since the issue of Napoleon's decree on the sub- 
ject, do not suffice. Valueless also, in Holland's view, 
are the attempts made from time to time by the Comedie 
Frangaise to present to the workers the plays of such court 
poets as Comeille and Racine. The people do not want 
caviare, but wholesome fare. For the nourishment of 
their indestructible idealism they need an art of their 
own, a theater of their own, and, above all, works 
adapted to their sensibilities and to their intellectual 
tastes. When they come to the theater, they must not be 
made to feel that they are tolerated guests in a world of 
unfamiliar ideas. \ In the art that is presented to them 
they must be able to recognize the mainspring of their 
own energies. 

More appropriate, in Holland's opinion, are the at- 
tempts which have been made by isolated individuals like 
Maurice Pottecher in Bussang (Vosges) to provide a 
"theatre du peuple," presenting to restricted audiences 
pieces easily understood. But such endeavors touch 
small circles only. The chasm in the gigantic metropolis 
between the stage and the real population remains un- 
bridged. With the best will in the world, the twenty or 
thirty special representations are witnessed by no more 
than an infinitesimal proportion of the population. 
They do not signify a spiritual union, or promote a new 
moral impetus. Dramatic art has no permanent influ- 
ence on the masses; and the masses, in their turn, have 
no influence on dramatic art. Though, in another liter- 
ary sphere, Zola, Charles Louis Philippe, and Maupas- 
sant, began long ago to draw fertile inspiration from 



proletarian idealism, the drama has remained sterile and 

The people, therefore, must have its own theater. 
When this has been achieved, what shall we offer to the 
popular audiences? Holland makes a brief survey of 
world literature. The result is appalling. What can 
the workers care for the classical pieces of the French 
drama? Corneille and Racine, with their decorous emo- 
tion, are alien to him; the subtleties of Moliere are 
barely comprehensible. The tragedies of classical an- 
tiquity, the writings of the Greek dramatists, would bore 
the workers; Hugo's romanticism would repel, despite 
the author's healthy instinct for reality. Shakespeare, 
the universally human, is more akin to the folk-mind, but 
his plays must be adapted to fit them for popular presen- 
tation, and thereby they are falsified. Schiller, with Die 
Rduber and Wilhelm Tell, might be expected to arouse 
enthusiasm; but Schiller, like Kleist with Der Prinz von 
Homburg, is, for -nationalist reasons, somewhat uncon- 
genial to the Parisians. Tolstoi's The Dominion of 
Darkness and Hauptmann's Die Weber would be compre- 
hensible enough, but their matter would prove somewhat 
depressing. While well calculated to stir the consciences 
of the guilty, among the people they would arouse feel- 
ings of despair rather than of hope. Anzengruber, a 
genuine folk-poet, is too distinctively Viennese in his 
topics. Wagner, whose Die Meistersinger Rolland re- 
gards as the climax of universally comprehensible and 
elevating art, cannot be presented without the aid of 



However far he looks back into the past, Rolland can 
find no answer to his question. But he is not easily dis- 
couraged. To him disappointment is but a spur to fresh 
effort. If there are as yet no plays for the people's 
theater, it is the sacred duty of the new generation to 
provide what is lacking. The manifesto ends with a , 

jubilant appeal: "Tout est a dire! Tout est a faire! f "^ 
A I'oeuvre!" In the beginning was the deed. 



WHAT kind of plays do the people want? 
It wants "good" plays, in the sense in which 
the word "good" is used by Tolstoi when he 
speaks of "good books." It wants plays which are easy 
to understand without being commonplace; those which 
stimulate faith without leading the spirit astray; those 
which appeal, not to sensuality, not to the love of sight- 
seeing, but to the powerful idealistic instincts of the 
masses. These plays must not treat of minor conflicts; 
but, in the spirit of the antique tragedies, they must dis- 
play man in the struggle with elemental forces, man as 
subject to heroic destiny. "Let us away with compli- 
cated psychologies, with subtle innuendoes, with obscure 
symbolisms, with the art of drawing-rooms and alcoves." 
Art for the people must be monumental. Though the 
people desires truth, it must not be delivered over to 
naturalism, for art which makes the masses aware of their 
own misery will never kindle the sacred flame of enthusi- 
asm, but only the insensate passion of anger. If, next 
day, the workers are to resume their daily tasks with a 
heightened and more cheerful confidence, they need a 
tonic. Thus the evening must have been a source of 



energy, but must at the same time have sharpened the 
intelligence. Undoubtedly the drama should display 
the people to the people, not however in the proletarian 
dullness of narrow dwellings, but on the pinnacles of the 
past. Rolland therefore opines, following to a large 
extent in Schiller's footsteps, that the people's theater 
must be historical in scope. The populace must not 
merely make its own acquaintance on the stage, but must 
be; brought to admire its own past. Here we see the 
motif to which Rolland continually returns, the need for 
arousing a passionate aspiration towards greatness. In 
its suffering, the people must learn to regain delight in 
its own self. 

With marvelous vividness does the imaginative his- 
torian display the epic significance of history. The 
forces of the past are sacred by reason of the spiritual 
energy which is part of every great movement. Reason- 
ing persons can hardly fail to be revolted when they ob- 
serve the unwarranted amount of space allotted to anec- 
dotes, accessories, the trifles of history, at the expense 
of its living soul. The power of the past must be awak- ' 
ened; the will to action must be steeled. Those who live 
to-day must learn greatness from their fathers and fore- 
fathers. "History can teach people to get outside them- 
selves, to read in the souls of others. We discern our- 
selves in the past, in a mingling of like characters and 
differing lineaments, with errors and vices which we can 
avoid. But precisely because history depicts the muta- 
ble, does it give us a better knowledge of the unchang- 




What, he goes on to ask, have French dramatists hith- 
erto brought the people out of the past? The burlesque 
figure of Cyrano; the gracefully sentimental personality 
of the duke of Reichstadt; the artificial conception of 
Madame Sans-Gene! "Tout est a faire! Tout est a 
dire!" The land of dramatic art still lies fallow. "For 
France, national epopee is quite a new thing. Our play- 
wrights have neglected the drama of the French people, 
although that people has been perhaps, since the days of 
Rome, the most heroic in the world. Europe's heart was 
beating in the kings, the thinkers, the revolutionists of 
France. And great as this nation has been in all do- 
mains of the spirit, its greatness has been shown above all 
in the field of action. Herein lay its most sublime crea- 
tion; here was its poem, its drama, its epos. France did 
what others dreamed of doing. France wrote no Iliads, 
but lived a dozen. The heroes of France wrought more 
splendidly than the poets. No Shakespeare sang their 
deeds; but Danton on the scaffold was the spirit of 
Shakespeare personified. The life of France has 
touched the loftiest summits of joy; it has plumbed the 
deepest abysses of sorrow. It has been a wonderful 
*comedie humaine,' a series of dramas ; each of its epochs 
a new poem." This past must be recalled to life; 
French historical drama must restore it to the French 
people. "The spirit which soars above the centuries, 
will thus soar for centuries to come. If we would en- 
gender strong souls, we must nourish them with the ener- 
gies of the world." Rolland now expands the French 
ode into a European ode. "The world must be our 


theme, for a nation is too small." One hundred and 
twenty years earlier, Schiller had said: "I write as a 
citizen of the world. Early did I exchange my father- 
land for mankind." Rolland is fired by Goethe's words: 
"National literature now means very little; the epoch of 
world literature is at hand." He utters the following 
appeal: "Let us make Goethe's prophesy a living real- 
ity! It is our task to teach the French to look upon their 
national history as a wellspring of popular art; but on no 
account should we exclude the sagas of other nations. 
Though it is doubtless our first duty to make the most of 
the treasures we have ourselves inherited, we must none 
the less find room on our stage for the great deeds of all 
races. Just as Anacharsis Cloots and Thomas Paine 
were chosen members of the Convention; just as Schiller, 
Klopstock, Washington, Priestley, Bentham, Pestalozzi, 
and Kosciuszko, are the heroes of our world; so should 
we inaugurate in Paris the epopee of the European 

Thus did Rolland's manifesto, passing far beyond the 
limits of the stage, become at its close his first appeal to 
Europe. Uttered by a solitary voice, it remained for the 
time unheeded and void of effect. Nevertheless the con- 
fession of faith had been spoken; it was indestructible; 
it could never pass away. Jean Christophe had pro- 
claimed his message to the world. 



THE task is set. Who shall accomplish it? Ro- 
main Rolland answers by putting his hand to 
the work. The hero in him shrinks from no de- 
feat; the youth in him dreads no difficulty. An epic of 
the French people is to be written. He does not hesitate 
to lay the foundations, though environed by the silence 
and indifference of the metropolis. As always, the 
impetus that drives him is moral rather than artistic. 
He has a sense of personal responsibility for an entire^ 
nation. By such productive, by such heroic idealism, 
alone, and not by a purely theoretical idealism, can ideal- 
ism be engendered. 

The theme is easy to find. Rolland turns to the great- 
est moment of French history, to the Revolution. He 
responds to the appeal of his revolutionary forefathers. 
On the 27th of Floreal, 1794, the Committee of Public 
Safety issued an invocation to authors "to glorify the 
chief happenings of the French revolution; to compose 
republican dramas; to hand down to posterity the great 
epochs of the French renascence; to inspire history with 
the firmness of character appropriate to the annals of a 
great nation defending its freedom against the onslaught 



of all the tyrants of Europe." On the 11th of Messidor, 
the Committee asked young authors "boldly to recognize 
the whole magnitude of the undertaking, and to avoid 
the easy and well-trodden paths of mediocrity." The 
signatories of these decrees, Danton, Robespierre, Car- 
not, and Couthon, have now become national figures, 
legendary heroes, monuments in public places. Where 
restrictions were imposed on poetic inspiration by undue 
proximity to the subject, there is now room for the 
imagination to expand, seeing that this history of the 
period is remote enough to give free play to the tragic 
muse. The documents just quoted issue a summons to 
the poet and the historian in Rolland ; but the same chal- 
lenge rings from within as a personal heritage. Boni- 
ard, one of his great-grandfathers on the paternal side, 
took part in the revolutionary struggle as "an apostle of 
liberty," and described in his diary the storming of the 
Bastille. More than half a century later, another rela- 
tive was fatally stabbed in Clamecy during a rising 
against the coup d'etat. The blood of revolutionary 
zealots runs in Rolland's veins, no less than the blood of 
religious devotees. A century after 1792, in the fervor 
of commemoration, he reconstructed the great figures of 
that glorious past. The theater in which the "French 
Iliads" were to be staged did not yet exist; no one had 
hitherto recognized Rolland as a literary force; actors 
and audience were alike lacking. Of all the requisites 
for the new creation, there existed solely his own faith 
and his own will. Building upon faith alone, he began 
to write Le theatre de la revolution. 




PLANNING this "Iliad of the French People" for 
the people's theater, Rolland designed it as a 
decalogy, as a time sequence of ten dramas 
'somewhat after the manner of Shakespeare's histories. 
"I wished," he writes in the 1909 preface to Le theatre 
de la revolution, "in the totality of this work to exhibit 
as it were the drama of a convulsion of nature, to depict a 
social storm from the moment when the first waves began 
to rise above the surface of the ocean down to the mo- 
ment when calm spread once more over the face of the 
waters." No by-play, no anecdotal trifling, was to miti- 
gate the mighty rhythm of the primitive forces. "My 
leading aim was to purify the course of events, as far as 
might be, from all romanticist intrigue, which would 
serve only to encumber and belittle the movement. 
Above all I desired to throw light upon the great politi- 
cal and social interests on behalf of which mankind has 
been fighting for a hundred years." It is obvious that 
the work of Schiller is closely akin to the idealistic style 
of this people's theater. Comparing Holland's technique 



with Schiller's, we may say that Rolland was thinking of 
a Don Carlos without the Eboli episodes, of a Wallen- 
stein without the Thekla sentimentalities. He wished to 
show the people the sublimities of history, not to enter- 
tain the audience with anecdotes of popular heroes. 

Thus conceived as a dramatic cycle, it was simultane- 
ously, from the musician's outlook, to be a symphony, 
an "Eroica." A prelude was to introduce the whole, a 
pastoral in the style of the "fetes galantes." We are at 
the Trianon, watching the lighthearted unconcern of the. 
ancien regime; we are shown powdered and patched 
ladies, amorous cavaliers, dallying and chattering. The 
storm is approaching, but no one heeds it. Once again 
the age of gallantry smiles ; the setting sun of the Grand 
Monarque seems to shine once more on the fading tints 
in the garden of Versailles. 

Le 14 Juillet is the flourish of trumpets ; it marks the 
opening of the storm. Danton is the critical climax; in 
the hour of victory comes the beginning of moral defeat, 
the fratricidal struggle. , A Robespierre was to introduce 
the declining phase. Le triomphe de la raison shows the 
disintegration of the Revolution in the provinces; Les 
loups depicts a like decomposition in the army. Be- 
tween two of the heroic plays, the author proposed to 
insert a love drama, describing the fate of Louvet, the 
Girondist. Wishing to visit his beloved in Paris, he 
leaves his hiding-place in Gascony, and is the only one 
to escape the death that overtakes his friends, who are 
,all guillotined or torn to pieces by the wolves as they 
flee. The figures of Marat, Saint-Just, and Adam Lux, 


which are merely touched on in the extant plays, were 
to receive detailed treatment in the dramas that remain 
unwritten. Doubtless, too, the figure of Napoleon would 
have towered above the dying Revolution. 

Opening with a musical and lyrical prelude, this 
symphonic composition was to end with a postlude. 
After the great storm', castaways from the shipwreck were 
to foregather in Switzerland, near Soleure. Royalists 
and regicides, Girondists and Montagnards, were to ex- 
change reminiscences; a love episode between two of 
their children was to lend an idyllic touch to the after- 
math of the European storm. Fragments only of this 
great design have been carried to completion, comprising 
the four dramas, Le 14 Juillet, Danton, Les loups, and 
Le triomphe de la raison. When these plays had been 
written, Rolland abandoned the scheme, to which the 
people, like the literary world and the stage, had given no 
encouragement. For more than a decade these tragedies 
have been forgotten. To-day, perchance, the awakening 
impulses of an age becoming aware of its own lineaments 
in the prophetic image of a world convulsion, may arouse 
in the author an impulse to complete what was so magnifi- 
cently begun. 



OF the four completed revolutionary dramas, Le 
14 Juillet stands first in point of historic time. 
Here we see the Revolution as one of the ele- 
ments of nature. No conscious thought has formed it; 
no leader has guided it. Like thunder from a clear sky 
comes the aimless discharge of the tensions that have ac- 
cumulated among the people. The thunderbolt strikes 
the Bastille; the lightning flash illumines the soul of the 
entire nation. This piece has no heroes, for the hero 
of the play is the multitude. "Individuals are merged 
in the ocean of the people," writes Rolland in the preface. 
"He who limns a storm at sea, need not paint the details 
of every wave ; he must show the unchained forces of the 
ocean. Meticulous precision is a minor matter com- 
pared with the impassioned truth of the whole." In 
actual fact, this drama is all tumultuous movement; in- 
dividuals rush across the stage like figures on the cine- 
matographic screen; the storming of the Bastille is not 
the outcome of a reasoned purpose, but of an overwhelm- 
ing, an ecstatic impulse. 



Le 14 Juillet, therefore, is not properly speaking a 
drama, and does not really seek to be anything of the 
kind. Consciously or unconsciously, Holland aimed at 
creating one of those "fetes populaires" which the Con- 
vention had encouraged, a people's festival with music 
and dancing, an epinikion, a triumphal ode. His work, 
therefore, is not suitable for the artificial environment of 
the boards, and should rather be played under the free 
heaven. Opening symphonically, it closes in exultant 
choruses for which the author gives definite directions to 
the composer. "The music must be, as it were, the back- 
ground of a fresco. It must make manifest the heroical 
significance of the festival; it must fill in pauses as they 
can never be adequately filled in by a crowd of super- 
numeraries, for these, however much noise they make, 
fail to sustain the illusion of real life. This music 
should be inspired by that of Beethoven, which more 
powerfully than any other reflects the enthusiasms of the 
Revolution. Above all, it must breathe an ardent faith. 
No composer will effect anything great in this vein unless 
he be personally inspired by the soul of the people, 
unless he himself feel the burning passion that is here 

Rolland wishes to create an atmosphere of ecstatic 
rapture. Not by dramatic excitement, but by its oppo- 
site. The theater is to be forgotten ; the multitude in the 
audience is to become spiritually at one with its image on 
the stage. In the last scene, when the phrases are 
directly addressed to the audience, when the stormers of 
the Bastille appeal to their hearers on behalf of the im- 


perishable victory which leads men to break the yoke of 
oppression and to win brotherhood, this idea must not be 
a mere echo from the members of the audience, but must 
surge up spontaneously in their own hearts. The cry 
"tous freres" must be a double chorus of actors and 
spectators, for the latter, part of the "courant de foi," 
must share the intoxication of joy. The spark from their 
own past must rekindle in the hearts of to-day. It is 
manifest tliat words alone will not suffice to produce this 
effect. Hence Rolland wishes to superadd the higher 
spell of music, the undying goddess of pure ecstasy. 

The audience of which he dreamed was not forthcom- 
ing; nor until twenty years had elapsed was he to find 
Doyen, the musician who was almost competent to fulfill 
his demands. The representation in the Gemier Theater 
on March 21, 1902, wasted itself in the void. His mes- 
sage never reached the people to whose ear it had been so 
vehemently addressed. Without an echo, almost piti- 
fully, was this ode of joy drowned in the roar of the 
great city, which had forgotten the deeds of the past, and 
which failed to understand its own kinship to Rolland, 
the man who was recalling those deeds to memory. 



DANTON deals with a decisive moment of the 
Revolution, the waterparting between the ascent 
and the decline. What the masses had created 
as elemental forces, were now being turned to personal 
advantage by individuals, by ambitious leaders. Every 
spiritual movement, and above all every revolution or 
reformation, knows this tragical instant of victory, when 
power passes into the hands of the few; when moral unity 
is broken in sunder by the conflict between political aims ; 
when the masses, who in an impetuous onrush have 
secured freedom, blindly follow demagogues inspired 
solely by self-interest. It seems to be an inevitable 
sequel of success in such cases, that the nobler should 
stand aside in disillusionment, that the idealists should 
hold aloof while the self-seeking triumph. At that very 
time, in the Dreyfus affair, Rolland had witnessed simi- 
lar happenings. He realized that the genuine strength 
of an idea subsists only during its non-fulfilment. Its 
true power is in the hands of those who are not victori- 
ous; those to whom the ideal is everything, success noth- 



ing. Victory brings power, and power is just to itself 

The play, therefore, is no longer a drama of the ) 
Revolution; it is the drama of the great revolutionist.' 
Mystical power crystallizes in the form of human charac- 
ters. Resoluteness becomes contentiousness. In the 
very intoxication of victory, in the queasy atmosphere of 
the blood-stained field, begins the new struggle among the 
pretorians for the empire they have conquered. There 
is struggle between ideas ; struggle between personalities ; 
struggle between temperaments ; struggle between persons 
of different social origin. Now that they are no longer 
united as comrades by the compulsion of imminent dan- 
ger, they recognize their mutual incompatibilities. The 
revolutionary crisis comes in the hour of triumph. The | 
hostile armies have been defeated; the royalists and the j 
Girondists have been crushed and scattered. Now there 
arises in the Convention a battle of all against all. The 
characters are admirably delineated. Danton is the 
good giant, sanguine, warm, and human, a hurricane in 
his passions but with no love of fighting for fighting's 
sake. He has dreamed of the Revolution as bringing 
joy to mankind, and now sees that it has culminated in a 
new tyranny. He is sickened by bloodshed, and he 
detests the butcher's work of the guillotine, just as Christ 
would have loathed the Inquisition claiming to represent 
the spirit of his teaching. He is filled with horror at his 
fellows. "Je suis soule des hommes. Je les vomis." — 
I am surfeited with men. I spue them out of my mouth. 
— He longs for a frank naturalness, for an unsophisti- 


cated natural life. Now that the danger to the republic 
is over, his passion has cooled; his love goes out to 
woman, to the people, to happiness; he wishes others to 
love him. His revolutionary fervor has been the out- 
come of an impulse towards freedom and justice; hence 
he is beloved by the masses, who recognize in him the 
instinct which led them to storm the Bastille, the same 
scgm of consequence, the same marrow as their own. 
Robespierre is uncongenial to them. He is too frigid, he 
is too much the lawyer, to enlist their sympathies. But 
his doctrinaire fanaticism, his far from ignoble ambition, 
give him a terrible power which makes him forge his 
way onwards when Danton with his cheerful love of life 
has ceased to strive. Whilst Danton becomes every day 
more and more nauseated by politics, the concentrated 
energy of Robespierre's frigid temperament strikes ever 
closer towards the centralized control of power. Like 
his friend Saint-Just — the zealot of virtue, the blood- 
thirsty apostle of justice, the stubborn papist or calvinist 
— Robespierre can no longer see human beings, who for 
him are now hidden behind the theories, the laws, and the 
dogmas of the new religion. Not for him, as for Dan- 
ton, the goal of a happy and free humanity. What he 
desires is that men shall be virtuous as the slaves of pre- 
scribed formulas. The collision between Danton and 
Robespierre upon the topmost summit of victory is in 
ultimate analysis the collision between freedom and law, 
between the elasticity of life and the rigidity of concepts. 
Danton is overthrown. He is too indolent, too heedless, 
too human in his defense. But even as he falls it is plain 


that he will drag his opponent after him adown the 

In the composition of this tragedy Rolland shows him- 
self to be wholly the dramatist. Lyricism has disap- 
peared; emotion has vanished amid the rush of events; 
the conflict arises from the liberation of human energy, 
from the clash of feelings and of personalities. In Le 
14 Juillet the masses had played the principal part, but 
in this new phase of the Revolution they have become 
mere spectators once more. Their will, which had been 
concentrated during a brief hour of enthusiasm, has been 
broken into fragments, so that they are blown before 
every breath of oratory. The ardors of the Revolution 
are dissipated in intrigues. It is not the heroic instinct 
of the people which now dominates the situation, but 
the authoritarian and yet indecisive spirit of the intel- 
lectuals. Whilst in Le 14 Juillet Rolland exhibits to 
his nation the greatness of its powers; in Danton he 
depicts the danger of its all too prompt relapse into 
passivity, the peril that ever follows hard upon the heels 
of victory. From this outlook, therefore, Danton like-' 
wise is a call to action, an energizing elixir. Thus did 
Jaures characterize it, Jaures who himself resembled 
Danton in his power of oratory, introducing the work 
when it was staged at the Theatre Civique on December 
20, 1900 — a performance forgotten in twenty-four 
hours, like all Rolland's early eff"orts. 



LE triomphe de la raison is no more than a frag- 
ment of the great fresco. But it is inspired 
with the central thought round which Rolland's 
ideas turn. In it for the first time there is a complete 
exposition of the dialectic of defeat — the passionate 
advocacy of the vanquished, the transformation of actual 
overthrow into spiritual triumph. This thought, first 
conceived in his childhood and reinforced by all his ex- 
perience, forms the kernel of the author's moral sensi- 
bility. The Girondists have been defeated, and are de- 
fending themselves in a fortress against the sansculottes. 
The royalists, aided by the English, wish to rescue them. 
Their ideal, the freedom of the spirit and the freedom 
of the fatherland, has been destroyed by the Revolution ; 
their foes are Frenchmen. But the royalists who would 
help them are likewise their enemies; the English are 
their country's foes. Hence arises a conflict of con- 
science which is powerfully portrayed. Are they to be 
faithless to their ideal, or to betray their country? Are 
they to be citizens of the spirit or citizens of France? 



Are they to be true to themselves or true to the nation? 
Such is the fateful decision with which they are con- 
fronted. They choose death, for they know that their 
ideal is immortal, that the freedom of a nation is but the 
reflection of an inner freedom which no foe can destroy. 
For the first time, in this play, Rolland proclaims his 
hostility to victory. Faber proudly declares: "We 
have saved our faith from a victory which would have 
disgraced us, from one wherein the conqueror is the first 
victim. In our unsullied defeat, that faith looms more 
richly and gloriously than before." Lux, the German 
revolutionist, proclaims the gospel of inner freedom in 
the words: "All victory is evil, whereas all defeat is 
good in so far as it is the outcome of free choice." 
Hugot says : "I have outstripped victory, and that is my 
victory." These men of noble mind who perish, know 
that they die alone; they do not look towards a future 
success; they put no trust in the masses, for they are 
aware that in the higher sense of the term freedom it is a 
thing which the multitude can never understand, that the 
people always misconceives the best. "The people al- 
ways dreads those who form an elite, for these bear 
torches. Would that the fire might scorch the people!" 
In the end, the only home of these Girondists is the ideal; 
their domain is an ideal freedom; their world is the fu- 
ture. They have saved their country from the despots; 
now they had to defend it once again against the mob lust- 
ing for dominion and revenge, against those who care 
no more for freedom than the despots cared. Design- 
edly, the rigid nationalists, those who demand that a 


man shall sacrifice everything for his country, shall sacri- 
fice his convictions, liberty, reason itself, designedly I 
say are these monomaniacs of patriotism typified in the 
plebeian figure of Haubourdin. This sansculotte knows 
only two kinds of men, "traitors" and "patriots," thus 
rending the world in twain in his bigotry. It is true that 
the vigor of his brutal partisanship brings victory. But 
the very force that makes it possible to save a people 
against a world in arms, is at the same time a force which 
destroys that people's most gracious blossoms. 

The drama is the opening of an ode to the free man, 
to the hero of the spirit, the only hero whose heroism 
Rolland acknowledges. The conception, which had 
been merely outlined in Aert, begins here to take more 
definite shape. Adam Lux, a member of the Mainz 
revolutionary club, who, animated by the fire of enthusi- 
asm, has made his way to France that he may live for 
freedom (and that he may be led in pursuit of freedom 
to the guillotine), this first martyr to idealism, is the 
first messenger from the land of Jean Christophe. The 
struggle of the free man for the undying fatherland which 
is above and beyond the land of his birth, has begun. 
This is the struggle wherein the vanquished is ever the 
victor, and wherein he is the strongest who fights alone. 



IN Le triomphe de la raison, men to whom consci- 
ence is supreme were confronted with a vital deci- 
sion. They had to choose between their country 
and freedom, between the intrests of the nation and 
those of the supranational spirit. Les loups embodies a 
variation of the same theme. Here the choice has to be 
made between the fatherland and justice. 

The subject has already been mooted in Danton. 
Robespierre and his henchmen decide upon the execution 
of Danton. They demand his immediate arrest and 
condemnation. Saint-Just, passionately opposed to 
Danton, makes no objection to the prosecution, but in- 
sists that all must be done in due form of law. Robes- 
pierre, aware that delay will give the victory to Danton, 
wishes the law to be infringed. His country is worth 
more to him than the law. "Vaincre a tout prix" — 
conquer at any cost — calls one. "When the country is 
in danger, it matters nothing that one man should be 
illegally condemned," cries another. Saint-Just bows 



before the argument, sacrificing honor to expediency, 
the law to his fatherland. 

In Les loups, we have the obverse of the same tragedy. 
Here is depicted a man who would rather sacrifice him- 
self than the law. One who holds with Faber in Le 
triomphe de la raison that a single injustice makes the 
whole world unjust; one to whom, as to Hugot, the other 
hero in the same play, it seems indifferent whether jus- 
tice be victorious or be defeated, so long as justice does 
not give up the struggle. Teulier, the man of learning, 
knows that his enemy d'Oyron has been unjustly accused 
of treachery. Though he realizes that the case is hope- 
less and that he is wasting his pains, he undertakes to de- 
fend d'Oyron against the patriotic savagery of the revo- 
lutionary soldiers, to whom victory is the only argument. 
Adopting as his motto the old saying, "fiat justitia, pereat 
mundus," facing open-eyed all the dangers this involves, 
he would rather repudiate life than the leadings of the 
spirit. "A soul which has seen truth and seeks to deny 
truth, destroys itself." But the others are of tougher 
fiber, and think only of success in arms. "Let my name 
be besmirched, provided only my country is saved," is 
Quesnel's answer to Teulier. Patriotism, the faith of 
the masses, triumphs over the heroism of faith in the in- 
visible justice. 

This tragedy of a conflict recurring throughout the 
ages, one which every individual has forced upon him in 
wartime through the need for choosing between his re- 
sponsibilities as a free moral agent and as an obedient 


citizen of the state, was the reflection of the actual hap- 
penings during the days when it was written. In Les 
loups, the Dreyfus affair is emhloraatically presented in 
masterly fashion. Dreyfus the Jew is typified by an 
aristocrat, the member of a suspect and detested social 
stratum. Picquart, the defender of Dreyfus, is Teulier. 
The aristocrat's enemies represent the French general 
headquarters staff, who would rather perpetuate an in- 
justice once committed than allow the honor of the 
army to be tarnished or confidence in the army to be 
undermined. Upon a narrow stage, and yet with ef- 
fective pictorial force, in this tragedy of army life was 
compressed the whole of the history which was agitating 
France from the presidential palace down to the hum- 
blest working-class dwelling. The performance at the 
Theatre de I'Oeuvre on May 18, 1898, was from first to 
last a political demonstration. Zola, Scheurer-Kestner, 
Peguy, and Picquart, the defenders of the innocent man, 
all the chief figures in the world-famous trial, were for 
two hours spectators of the dramatic symbolization of 
their own deeds. Holland had grasped and extracted the 
moral essence of the Dreyfus affair, which had in fact 
become a purifying process for the whole French nation. 
Leaving history, the author had made his first venture 
into the field of contemporary actuality. But he had 
done this only, in accordance with the method he has 
followed ever since, that he might disclose the eternal 
elements in the temporal, and defend freedom of opinion 
against mob infatuation. He was on this occasion what 


he has always remained, the advocate of that heroism 
which knows one authority only, neither fatherland nor 
victory, neither success nor expediency, nothing but the 
Supreme authority of conscience. 



THE ears of the people were deaf. Holland's 
work seemed to have been fruitless. Not one of 
the dramas was played for more than a few 
nights. Most of them were buried after a single per- 
formance, slain by the hostility of the critics and the in- 
difference of the crowd. Futile, too, had been the strug- 
gles of RoUand and his friends on behalf of the people's 
theater. The government to which they had addressed 
an appeal for the founding of a popular theater in Paris, 
paid little attention. M. Adrien Bemheim was dis- 
patched to Berlin to make inquiries. He reported. 
Further reports were made. The matter was discussed 
for a while, but was ultimately shelved. Rostand and 
Bernstein continued to triumph in the boulevards; the 
great call to idealism had remained unheard. 

Where could the author look for help in the comple- 
tion of his splendid program? To what nation could he 
turn when his own made no response, Le theatre de la 
revolution remained a fragment. A Robespierre, which 
was to be the spiritual counterpart of Danton, already 
sketched in broad outline, was left unfinished. The 

other segments of the great dramatic cycle have never 



been touched. Bundles of studies, newspaper cuttings, 
loose leaves, manuscript books, waste paper, are the 
vestiges of an edifice which was planned as a pantheon 
for the French people, a theater which was to reflect the 
heroic achievements of the French spirit. Holland may 
well have shared the feelings of Goethe who, mournfully 
recalling his earlier dramatic dreams, said on one occa- 
sion to Eckermann: "Formerly I fancied it would be 
possible to create a German theater. I cherished the 
illusion that I could myself contribute to the foundations 
of such a building . . . But there was no stir in response 
to my efforts, and everything remains as of old. Had 
I been able to exert an influence, had I secured ap- 
proval, I should have written a dozen plays like Iphigenia 
and Tasso. There was no scarcity of material. But, as 
I have told you, we lack actors to play such pieces with 
spirit, and we lack a public to form an appreciative 

The call was lost in the void. "There was no stir in 
response to my efforts, and everything remains as of 
old." But Holland, likewise, remains as of old, inspired 
with the same faith, whether he has succeeded or whether 
he has failed. He is ever willing to begin work over 
again, marching stoutly across the land of lost endeavor 
towards a new and more distant goal. We may apply 
to him Rilke's fine phrase, and say that, if he needs must 
be vanquished, he aspires "to be vanquished always in a 
greater and yet greater cause." 



ONCE only has Rolland been tempted to resume 
dramatic composition. (Parenthetically I 
may mention a minor play of the same per- 
iod, La Montespan, which does not belong to the series 
of his greater works.) As in the case of the Dreyfus 
affair, he endeavored to extract the moral essence from 
political occurrences, to show how a spiritual conflict 
was typified in one of the great happenings of the time. 
The Boer War is no more than a vehicle; just as, for the 
plays we have been studying, the Revolution was merely 
a stage. The new drama deals in actual fact with the 
only auhority Rolland rcognizes, conscience. The con- 
science of the individual and the conscience of the 

Le temps viendra is the third, the most impressive 
variation upon the earlier theme, depicting the cleavage 
between conviction and duty, citizenship and humanity, 
the national man and the free man. A war drama of 
the conscience staged amid a war in the material world. 
In Le triomphe de la raison, the problem was one of free- 
dom versus the fatherland; in Les loups it was one of 



justice versus the fatherland. Here we have a yet loftier 
variation of the theme; the conflict of conscience, of 
eternal truth, versus the fatherland. The chief figure, 
though not spiritually the hero of the piece, is Clifford, 
leader of the invading army. He is waging an unjust 
war — and what war is just? But he wages it with a 
strategist's brain; his heart is not in the work. He knows 
"how much rottenness there is in war"; he knows that 
war cannot be effectively waged without hatred for the 
enemy; but he is too cultured to hate. He knows that 
it is impossible to carry on war without falsehood; im- 
possible to kill without infringing the principles of hu- 
manity; impossible to create military justice, since the 
whole aim of war is unjust. He knows this with one 
part of his being, which is the real Clifford; but he has 
to repudiate the knowledge with the other part of his 
being, the professional soldier. He is confined within 
an iron ring of contradictions. "Obeir a ma patrie? 
Obeir a ma conscience?" It is impossible to gain the 
victory without doing wrong, yet who can command an 
army if he lack the will to conquer? Clifford must serve 
that will, even while he despises the force which his duty 
compels him to use. He cannot be a man unless he 
thinks, and yet he cannot remain a soldier while pre- 
serving his humanity. Vainly does he seek to mitigate 
the brutalities of his task; fruitlessly does he endeavor 
to do good amid the bloodshed which issues from his 
orders. He is aware that "there are gradations in crime, 
but every one of these gradations remains a crime." 



Other notable figures in the play are: the cynic, whose 
only aim is the profit of his own country; the army 
sportsman; those who blindly obey; the sentimentalist, 
who shuts his eyes to all that is painful, contemplating 
as a puppet-show what is tragedy to those who have to 
endure it. The background to these figures is the lying 
spirit of contemporary civilization, with its neat phrases 
to justify every outrage, and its factories built upon 
tombs. To our civilization applies the charge inscribed 
upon the opening page, raising the drama into the sphere 
of universal humanity: "This play has not been writ- 
ten to condemn a single nation, but to condemn Eu- 

The true hero of the piece is not General Clifford, 
the conqueror of South Africa, but the free spirit, as 
typified in the Italian volunteer, a citizen of the world 
who tlirew himself into the fray that he might defend 
freedom, and in the Scottish peasant who lays aside his 
rifle with the words, "I will kill no longer." These men 
have no other fatherland than conscience, no other home 
than their own humanity. The only fate they acknowl- 
edge is that which the free man creates for himself. 
Holland is with them, the vanquished, as he is ever with 
those who voluntarily accept defeat. It is from his soul 
that rises'the cry of the Italian volunteer, "Ma patrie est 
partout oil la liberte est menacee." Aert, Saint Louis, 
Hugot, the Girondists, Teulier, the martyrs in Les loups, 
are the author's spiritual brethren, the children of his 
belief that the individual's will is stronger than his secu- 


crj // 


lar environment. This faith grows ever greater, takes 
on an ever wider oscillation, as the years pass. In his 
first plays he was still speaking to France. His last 
work written for the stage addresses a wider audience; 
it is his confession of world citizenship. 




WE have seen that Rolland's plays form a 
whole, which for comprehensiveness may 
be compared with the work of Shakespeare, 
Schiller, or Hebbel. Recent stage performances in Ger- 
many have shown that in places, at least, they possess 
great dramatic force. The historical fact that work of 
such magnitude and power should remain for twenty 
years practically unknown, must have some deeper cause 
than chance. The effect of a literary composition is 
always in large part dependent upon the atmosphere of 
the time. Sometimes this atmosphere may so operate 
as to make it seem that a spark has fallen into a powder- 
barrel heaped full of accumulated sensibilities. Some- 
times the influence of the atmosphere may be repressive 
in manifold ways. A work, therefore, taken alone, can 
never reflect an epoch. Such reflection can only be 
secured when the work is harmonious to the epoch in 
which it originates. 

We infer that the innermost essence of Rolland's plays 
must in one way or another have conflicted with the age 
in which they were written. In actual fact, these dramas 
were penned in deliberate opposition to the dominant 



/literary mode. Naturalism, the representation of real- 
ity, simultaneously mastered and oppressed the time, 
leading back with intent into the narrows, the trivialities, 
of everyday life. RoUand, on the other hand, aspired 
towards greatness, wishing to raise the dynamic of un- 
dying ideals high above the transiencies of fact; he 
aimed at a soaring flight, at a winged freedom of senti- 

1 ment, at exuberant energy; he was a romanticist and an 
idealist. Not for him to describe the forces of life, its 
distresses, its powers, and its passions; his purpose was 
ever to depict the spirit that overcomes these things; 
the idea through which to-day is merged into eternity. 
Whilst other writers were endeavoring to portray every- 
day occurrences with the utmost fidelity, his aim was to 
represent the rare, the sublime, the heroic, the seeds of 

' eternity that fall from heaven to germinate on earth. He 
was not allured by life as it is, but by life freely inter- 
penetrated with spirit and with will. 

All his dramas, therefore, are problem plays, wherein 
the characters are but the expression of theses and anti- 
theses in dialectical struggle. The idea, not the living 
figure, is the primary thing. When the persons of the 
drama are in conflict, above them, like the gods in the 
Iliad, hover unseen the ideas that lead the human pro- 
tagonists, the ideas between which the struggle is really 
waged. Rolland's heroes are not impelled to action by 
the force of circumstances, but are lured to action by 
the fascination of their own thoughts; the circumstances 
are merely the friction-surfaces upon which their ardor 
is struck into flame. When to the eye of the realist 


they are vanquished, when Aert plunges into death, when 
Saint Louis is consumed by fever, when the heroes of 
the Revolution stride to tlie guillotine, when Clifford and 
Owen fall victims to violence, the tragedy of their mor- 
tal lives is transfigured by the heroism of their martyr- 
dom, by the unity and purity of realized ideals. 

Rolland has openly proclaimed the name of the intel- 
lectual father of his tragedies. Shakespeare was no 
more than the burning bush, the first herald, the stimulus, 
the inimitable model. To Shakespeare, Rolland owes 
his impetus, his ardor, and in part his dialectical power. 
But as far as spiritual form is concerned, he has picked 
up the mantle of another master, one whose work as 
dramatist still remains almost unknown. I refer to 
Ernest Renan, and to the Drames philosophiques, among 
which Uabbesse de Jouarre and Le pretre de Nemi exer- 
cised a decisive influence upon the younger playwright. 
The art of discussing spiritual problems in actual drama 
instead of in essays or in such dialogues as those of 
Plato, was a legacy from Renan, who gave kindly help 
and instruction to the aspiring student. From Renan, 
too, came the inner calm of justice, together with the 
clarity which never failed to lift the writer above the con- 
flicts he was describing. But whereas the sage of Tre- 
guier, in his serene aloofness, regarded all human activi- 
ties as a perpetually renewed illusion, so that his works 
voiced a somewhat ironical and even malicious skepti- 
cism, in Rolland we find a new element, the flame of an 
idealism that is still undimmed to-day. Strange indeed 
is the paradox, that one who of all modern writers is the 


most fervent in his faith, should borrow the artistic forms 
he employs from the master of cautious doubt. Hence 
what in Renan had a retarding and cooling influence, 
becomes in Rolland a cause of vigorous and enthusiastic 
action. Whilst Renan stripped all the legends, even the 
most sacred of legends, bare, in his search for a wise but 
tepid truth, Rolland is led by his revolutionary tempera- 
ment to create a new legend, a new heroism, a new emo- 
tional spur to action. 

This ideological scaffolding is unmistakable in every 
one of Rolland's dramas. The scenic variations, the 
motley changes in the cultural environments, cannot pre- 
vent our realizing that the problems revealed to our eyes 
emanate, not from feelings and not from personalities, 
[ but from intelligences and from ideas. Even the his- 
^ torical figures, those of Robespierre, Danton, Saint- Just, 
and Desmoulins, are schemata rather than portraits. 
Nevertheless, the prolonged estrangement between his 
dramas and the age in which they were written, was not 
so much due to the playwright's method of treatment as 
to the nature of the problems with which he chose to 
deal. Ibsen, who at that time dominated the drama, like- 
wise wrote plays with a purpose. Ibsen, far more even 
than Rolland, had definite ends in view. Like Strind- 
berg, Ibsen did not merely wish to present comparisons 
between elemental forces, but in addition to present their 
formulation. These northern writers intellectualized 
much more than Rolland, inasmuch as they were propa- 
gandists, whereas Rolland merely endeavored to show 
ideas in the act of unfolding their own contradictions. 



Ibsen and Strindberg desired to make converts; Holland's 
aim was to display the inner energy that animates every 
idea. Whilst the northerners hoped to produce a spe- 
cific effect, Holland was in search of a general effect, the 
arousing of enthusiasm. For Ibsen, as for the contem- 
porary French dramatists, the conflict between man and 
woman living in the bourgeois environment always oc- 
cupies the center of the stage. Strindberg's work is ani- 
mated by the myth of sexual polarity. The lie against 
which both these writers are campaigning is a conven- 
tional, a social, lie. The dramatic interest remains the 
same. The spiritual arena is still that of bourgeois life. 
This applies even to the mathematical sobriety of Ibsen 
and to the remorseless analysis of Strindberg. Despite 
the vituperation of the critics, the world of Ibsen and 
Strindberg was still the critics' world. 

On the other hand, the problems with which Holland's 
plays were concerned could never awaken the interest of 
a bourgeois public, for they were political, ideal, heroic, 
revolutionary problems. The surge of his more compre- 
hensive feelings engulfed the lesser tensions of sex. 
Holland's dramas leave the erotic problem untouched, 
and this damns them for a modern audience. He pre- 
sents a new type, political drama in the sense phrased by 
Napoleon, conversing with Goethe at Erfurt. "La 
politique, voila la fatalite modeme." The tragic drama- 
tist always displays human beings in conflict with forces. 
Man becomes great through his resistance to these forces. 
In Greek tragedy the powers of fate assumed mythical 
forms : the wrath of the gods, the disfavor of evil spirits, 

u '^ 



disastrous oracles. We see this in the figures of Oedi- 
/ pus, Prometheus, and Philoctetes. For us modems, it 
is the overwhelming power of the state, organized politi- 
cal force, massed destiny, against which as individuals 
we stand weaponless; it is the great spiritual storms, "les 
J^ ^ courants de foi," which inexorably sweep us away like 
.■■^ ^ straws before the wind. No less incalculably than did 

y the fabled gods of antiquity, no less overwhelmingly and 

pitilessly, does the world-destiny make us its sport. War 
is the most powerful of these mass influences, and, for 
this reason, nearly all Holland's plays take war as their 
. theme. Their moral force consists in the way wherein 
again and again they show how the individual, a Prome- 
theus in conflict with the gods, is able in the spiritual 
sphere to break the unseen yoke; how the individual 
idea remains stronger than the mass idea, the idea of the 
fatherland — though the latter can still destroy a hardy 
rebel with the thunderbolts of Jupiter. 

The Greeks first knew the gods when the gods were 
angry. Our gloomy divinity, the fatherland, blood- 
thirsty as the gods of old, first becomes fully known to 
us in time of war. Unless fate lowers, man rarely thinks 
of these hostile forces; he despises them or forgets them, 
while they lurk in the darkness, awaiting the advent of 
their day. A peaceful, a laodicean era had no interest 
in tragedies foreshadowing the opposition of the forces 
which were twenty years later to engage in deadly strug- 
gle in the bloodstained European arena. What should 
those care who strayed into the theater from the Parisian 
boulevards, members of an audience skilled in the geom- 


etry of adultery, what should they care about such prob- 
lems as those in Rolland's plays: whether it is better to 
serve the fatherland or to serve justice; whether in war 
time soldiers must obey orders or follow the call of 
conscience? The questions seemed at best but idle 
trifling, remote from reality, charades, the untimely 
musings of a cloistered moralist; problems in the fourth 
dimension. "What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?" 
— though in truth it would have been well to heed Cas- 
sandra's warning. The tragedy and the greatness of 
Rolland's plays lies in this, that they came a generation 
before their day. They seem to have been written for 
the time we have just had to live through. They seem 
to foretell in lofty symbols the spiritual content of to- 
day's political happenings. The outburst of a revolu- 
tion, the concentration of its energies into individual 
personalities, the decline of passion into brutality and 
into suicidal chaos, as typified in the figures of Kerensky, 
Lenin, Liebknecht, is the anticipatory theme of Rol- 
land's plays. The anguish of Aert, the struggles of the 
Girondists who had likewise to defend themselves upon 
two fronts, against the brutality of war and against the 
brutality of the Revolution — have we not all of late v\^ 
realized these things with the vividness of personal expe- 
rience? Since 1914, what question has been more press- 
ing than that of the conflict between the free-spirited 
internationalist and the mass frenzy of his fellow coun- 
trymen? Where, during recent decades, has there been 
produced any other drama which can present these soul- 
Searching problems so vividly and with so much human 


understanding as do the tragedies which lay for years 
in obscurity, and were then overshadowed by the fame 
of their late-bom brother, Jean Christophe? These 
dramas, parerga as it seemed, were aimed, in an hour 
when peace still ruled the world, at the center of our 
contemporary consciousness, which was then still un- 
woven by the looms of time. The stone which the build- 
ers of the stage contemptuously rejected, will perhaps 
become the foundation of a new theater, grandly con- 
ceived, contemporary and yet heroical, the theater of the 
free European brotherhood, for whose sake it was fash- 
ioned in solitude decades ago by the lonely creator. 


I prepare myself by the study of 
history and the practice of writing. 
So doing, I welcome always in my 
soul the memory of the best and most 
renowned of men. For whenever the 
enforced associations of daily life 
arouse worthless, evil, or ignoble 
feelings, I am able to repel these 
feelings and to keep them at a dis- 
tance, by dispassionately turning my 
thoughts to contemplate the brightest 

Plutarch, Preamble to the Life 
of Timoleon. 



AT twenty years of age, and again at thirty years 
of age, in his early works, Rolland had wished 
to depict enthusiasm as the highest power of 
the individual and as the creative soul of an entire peo- 
ple. For him, that man alone is truly alive whose 
spirit is consumed with longing for the ideal, that nation 
alone is inspired which collects its forces in an ardent 
faith. The dream of his youth was to arouse a weary 
and vanquished generation, infirm of will; to stimulate 
its faidi; to bring salvation to the world through en- 

Vain had been the attempt. Ten years, fifteen years 
— how easily the phrase is spoken, but how long the 
time may seem to a sad heart — had been spent in fruit- 
less endeavor. Disillusionment had followed upon dis- 
illusionment. Le theatre du peuple had come to noth- 
ing; the Dreyfus affair had been merged in political in- 
trigue; the dramas were waste paper. There had been 
no stir in response to his efforts. His friends were scat- 
tered. Whilst the companions of his youth had al- 
ready attained to fame, Rolland was still the beginner. 
It almost seemed as if the more he did, the more his 
work was ignored. None of his aims had been fulfilled. 



Public life was lukewarm and torpid as of old. The 
world was in search of profit instead of faith and spirit- 
ual force. 

His private life likewise lay in ruins. His marriage, 
entered into with high hopes, was one more disappoint- 
ment. During these years Rolland had individual expe- 
rience of a tragedy whose cruelty his work leaves un- 
noticed, for his writings never touch upon the narrower 
troubles of his own life. Wounded to the heart, ship- 
wrecked in all his undertakings, he withdrew into soli- 
tude. His workroom, small and simple as a monastic 
cell, became his world; work his consolation. He had 
now to fight the hardest fight on behalf of the faith of 
his youth, that he might not lose it in the darkness of 

In his solitude he read the literature of the day. And 
since in all voices man hears the echo of his own, Rol- 
land found everywhere pain and loneliness. He studied 
the lives of the artists, and having done so he wrote: 
"The further we penetrate into the existence of great 
creators, the more strongly are we impressed by the 
magnitude of the unhappiness by which their lives were 
enveloped. I do not merely mean that, being subject 
to the ordinary trials and disappointments of mankind, 
their higher emotional susceptibility rendered these 
smarts exceptionally keen. I mean that their genius, 
placing them in advance of their contemporaries by 
twenty, thirty, fifty, nay often a hundred years, and 
thus making of them wanderers in the desert, condemned 
them to the most desperate exertions if they were but to 


live, to say nothing of winning to victory." Thus these 
great ones among mankind, those towards whom posterity 
looks back with veneration, those who will for all time 
bring consolation to the lonely in spirit, were themselves 
"pauvres vaincus, les vainqueurs du monde" — the con- 
querors of the world, but themselves beaten in the fray. 
An endless chain of perpetually repeated and unmeaning 
torments binds their successive destinies into a tragical 
unity. "Never," as Tolstoi pointed out in the oft-men- 
tioned letter, "do true artists share the common man's 
power of contented enjoyment." The greater their na- 
tures, the greater their suffering. And conversely, the 
greater their suffering the fuller the development of 
their own greatness. 

Holland thus recognizes that there is another great- 
ness, a profounder greatness, than that of action, the 
/ greatness of suffering. Unthinkable would be a Holland 
who did not draw fresh faith from all experience, how- 
ever painful; unthinkable one who failed, in his own 
suffering, to be mindful of the sufferings of others. As 
a sufferer, he extends a greeting to all sufferers on 
earth. Instead of a fellowship of enthusiasm, he now 
looks for a brotherhood of the lonely ones of the world, 
as he shows them the meaning and the grandeur of all 
sorrow. In this new circle, the nethermost of fate, he 
turns to noble examples. "Life is hard. It is a con- 
tinuous struggle for all those who cannot come to terms 
with mediocrity. For the most part it is a painful strug- 
gle, lacking sublimity, lacking happiness, fought in 
solitude and silence. Oppressed by poverty, by domes- 



tic cares, by crushing and gloomy tasks demanding an 
aimless expenditure of energy, joyless and hopeless, 
most people work in isolation, without even the comfort 
of being able to stretch forth a hand to their brothers in 
misfortune." To build these bridges between man and 
man, between suffering and suffering, is now Rolland's 
task. To the nameless sufferers, he wishes to show those 
in whom personal sorrow was transmuted to become gain 
for millions yet to come. He would, as Carlyle phrased 
it, "make manifest . . . the divine relation . . . which 
at all times unites a Great Man to other men." The 
million solitaries have a fellowship; it is that of the 
great martyrs of suffering, those who, though stretched 
on the rack of destiny, never foreswore their faith in 
life, those whose very sufferings helped to make life 
richer for others. "Let them not complain too piteously, , 
the unhappy ones, for the best of men share their lot. It / 
is for us to grow strong with their strength. If we feel ^ 
our weakness, let us rest on their knees. They will give 
solace. From their spirits radiate energy and good- 
ness. Even if we did not study their works, even if we 7 
did not hearken to their voices, from the light of their i 
countenances, from the fact that they have lived, we \ 
should know that life is never greater, never more fruit- / 
ful — never happier — than in suffering." 

It was in this spirit, for his own good, and for the 
consolation of his unknown brothers in sorrow, that Rol- 
land undertook the composition of the heroic biographies. 



LIKE the revolutionary dramas, the new creative 
cycle was preluded by a manifesto, a new call 
to greatness. The preface to Beethoven pro- 
claims: "The air is fetid. Old Europe is suffocating 
in a sultry and unclean atmosphere. Our thoughts are 
weighed down by a petty materialism. . . . The world 
sickens in a cunning and cowardly egoism. We are 
stifling. Throw the windows wide; let in the free air 
of heaven. We must breathe the souls of the heroes." 
What does RoUand mean by a hero? He does not 
think of those who lead the masses, wage victorious 
wars, kindle revolutions; he does not refer to men of j t^^^ 
action, or to those whose thoughts engender action. 
The nullity of united action has become plain to him. 
Unconsciously in his dramas he has depicted the tragedy 
of the idea as something which cannot be divided among 
men like bread, as something which in each individual's 
brain and blood undergoes prompt transformation into 
a new form, often into its very opposite. True great- 
ness is for him to be found only in solitude, in struggle 
waged by the individual against the unseen. "I do 
not give the name of heroes to those who have triumphed, 



whether by ideas or by physical force. By heroes I 
mean those who were great through the power of the 
heart. As one of the greatest (Tolstoi) has said, 'I 
recognize no other sign of superiority than goodness. 
Where the character is not great, there is neither a great 
artist nor a great man of action; there is nothing but 
one of the idols of the crowd ; time will shatter them to- 
gether. . . . What matters, is to be great, not to seem 
great.' " 

A hero does not fight for the petty achievements of 
life, for success, for an idea in which all can partici- 
pate; he fights for the whole, for life itself. Whoever 
turns his back on the struggle because he dreads to be 
alone, is a weakling who shrinks from suffering; he is 
one who with a mask of artificial beauty would conceal 
from himself the tragedy of mortal life; he is a liar. 
True heroism is that which faces realities. Rolland 
fiercely exclaims: "I loathe the cowardly idealism of 
those who refuse to see the tragedies of life and the 
weaknesses of the soul. To a nation that is prone to 
the deceitful illusions of resounding words, to such a 
nation above all, is it necessary to say that the heroic 
falsehood is a form of cowardice. There is but one 
heroism on earth — to know life and yet to love it." 

Suffering is not the great man's goal. But it is his 
ordeal; the needful filter to effect purification; "the 
swiftest beast of burden bearing us towards perfection," 
as Meister Eckhart said. "In suffering alone do we 
rightly understand art; through sorrow alone do we 
learn those things which outlast the centuries, and are 


stronger than death." Thus for the great man, the 
painful experiences of life are transmuted into knowl- 
edge, and this knowledge is further transmuted into the 
power of love. Suff ering does no t suffice by itself to 
produce greatness; we need to h^e achieved a triumph 
over suffering^ He^who is broken by the distresses of 
life, and still more he who shirks the troubles of life, is 
stamped with the imprint of defeat, and even his noblest 
work will bear the marks of this overthrow. None but 
he who rises from the depths, can bring a message to the 
heights of the spirit; paradise must be reached by a path 
that leads through purgatory. Each must discover this 
path for himself; but the one who strides along it with 
head erect is a leader, and can lift others into his own 
world. "Great souls are like mountain peaks. Storms 
lash them; clouds envelop them; but on the peaks we 
breathe more freely than elsewhere. In that pure at- 
mosphere, the wounds of the heart are cleansed; and 
when the cloudbanks part, we gain a view of all man- 

To such lofty outlooks RoUand wishes to lead the 
sufferers who are still in the darkness of torment. He 
desires to show them the heights where suffering grows 
one with nature and where struggle becomes heroic. 
"Sursum corda," he sings, chanting a song of praise as 
he reveals the sublime pictures of creative sorrow. 



BEETHOVEN, the master of masters, is the first 
figure sculptured on the heroic frieze of the in- 
visible temple. From Rolland's earliest years, 
since his beloved mother had initiated him into the magic 
world of music, Beethoven had been his teacher, had 
been at once his monitor and consoler. Though fickle 
to other childish loves, to this love he had ever re- 
mained faithful. "During the crises of doubt and de- 
pression which I experienced in youth, one of Beetho- 
ven's melodies, one which still runs in my head, would 
reawaken in me the spark of eternal life." By degrees 
the admiring pupil came to feel a desire for closer ac- 
quaintance with the earthly existence of the object of 
his veneration. Journeying to Vienna, he saw there the 
room in the House of the Black Spaniard, since demol- 
ished, where the great musician passed away during a 
storm. At Mainz, in 1901, he attended the Beethoven 
festival. In Bonn he saw the garret in which the mes- 
siah of the l anguage without words was bom. It was a 
shock to him to find in what narrow straits this universal 
genius had passed his days. He perused letters and 
other documents conveying the cruel history of Bee- 



thoven's daily life, the life from which the musician, 
stricken with deafness, took refuge in the music of the 
inner, the imperishable universe. Shudderingly Hol- 
land came to realize the greatness of this "tragic Diony- 
sus," cribbed in our somber and unfeeling world. 

After the visit to Bonn, Holland wrote an article for 
the "Revue de Paris," entitled Les fetes de Beethoven. 
His muse, however, desired to sing without restraint, 
freed from the trammels imposed by critical contempla- 
tion. Holland wished, not once again to expound the 
musician to musicians, but to reveal the hero to hu- 
manity at large; not to recount the pleasure experienced 
on hearing Beethoven's music, but to give utterance to 
the poignancy of his own feelings. He desired to show 
forth Beethoven the hero, as the man who, after infinite 
suffering, composed the greatest hymn of mankind, the 
divine exultation of the Ninth Symphony. 

"Beloved Beethoven," thus the enthusiast opens. 
"Enough . . . many have extolled his greatness as an 
artist, but he is far more than the first of all musicians. 
He is the heroic energy of modem art, the greatest and 
best friend of all who suffer and struggle. When we 
mourn over the sorrows of the world, he comes to our 
solace. It is as if he seated himself at the piano in 
the room of a bereaved mother, comforting her with the 
wordless song of resignation. When we are wearied by 
the unending and fruitless struggle against mediocrity in 
vice and in virtue, what an unspeakable delight is it to 
plunge once more into this ocean of will and faith. He 
radiates the contagion of courage, the joy of combat. 


the intoxication of spirit whicli God himself feels. . . . 
What victory is comparable to this? What conquest of 
Napoleon's? What sun of Austerlitz can compare in 
refulgence with this superhuman effort, this triumph of 
^he spirit, achieved by a poor and unhappy man, by a 
lonely invalid, by one who, though he was sorrow in- 
carnate, though life denied him joy, was able to create 
joy that he might bestow it on the world. As he himself 
proudly phrases it, he forges joy out of his own misfor- 
tunes. . . . The device of every heroic soul must be: 
Out of suffering cometh joy." 

Thus does RoUand apostrophize the unknown. 
Finally he lets the master speak from his own life. He 
opens the Heiligenstadt "Testament," in which the re- 
tiring man confided to posterity the profound grief which 
he concealed from his contemporaries. He recounts the 
confession of faith of the sublime pagan. He quotes 
letters showing the kindliness which the great musician 
vainly endeavored to hide behind an assumed acerbity. 
Never before had the universal humanity in Beethoven 
been brought so near to the sight of our generation, 
never before had the heroism of this lonely life been 
so magnificently displayed for the encouragement of 
countless observers, as in this little book, with its ap- 
peal to enthusiasm, the greatest and most neglected of 
, human qualities. 

The brethren of sorrow to whom the message was ad- 
dressed, scattered here and there throughout the world, 
gave ear to the call. The book was not a literary tri- 
umph; the newspapers were silent; the critics ignored 

Romain Rolland at the time of writing Beethoven 


it. But unknown strangers won happiness from its 
pages; they passed it from hand to hand; a mystical 
sense of gratitude for the first time formed a bond of 
union among persons reverencing the name of Holland. 
The unhappy have an ear delicately attuned to the notes 
of consolation. While they would have been repelled 
by a superficial optimism, they were receptive to the 
passionate sympathy which they found in the pages of 
Rolland's Beethoven. The book did not bring its author 
success; but it brought something better, a public which 
henceforward paid close attention to his work, and ac- 
companied Jean Christophe in the first steps toward cel- 
ebrity. Simultaneously, there was an improvement in 
the fortunes of "Les cahiers de la quinzaine." The ob- 
scure periodical began to circulate more freely. For 
the first time, a second edition was called for. Charles 
Peguy describes in moving terms how the reissue of this 
number solaced the last hours of Bernard Lazare. At 
length Romain Rolland's idealism was beginning to 
come into its own. 

Rolland is no longer lonely. Unseen brothers touch 
his hand in the dark, eagerly await the sound of his 
voice. Only those who suffer, wish to hear of suffering 
— but sufferers are many. To them he now wishes to 
make known other figures, the figures of those who suf- 
fered no less keenly, and were no less great in their con- 
quest of suffering. From the distance of the centuries, 
the mighty contemplate him. Reverently he draws near 
to them and enters into their lives. 



BEETHOVEN is for Rolland the most typical of 
the controllers of sorrow. Bom to enjoy the 
fullness of life, it seemed to be his mission to 
reveal its beauties. Then destiny, ruining the sense- 
organ of music, incarcerated him in the prison of deaf- 
ness. But his spirit discovered a new language; in the 
darkness he made a great light, composing the Ode to 
Joy whose strains he was unable to hear. Bodily af- 
fliction, however, is but one of the many forms of suffer- 
ering which the heroism of the will can conquer. "Suf- 
fering is infinite, and displays itself in myriad ways. 
Sometimes it arises from the blind things of tyranny, 
coming as poverty, sickness, the injustice of fate, or the 
wickedness of men; sometimes its deepest cause lies in 
i i the sufferer's own nature. This is no less lamentable, 
no less disastrous; for we do not choose our own dispo- 
sitions, we have not asked for life as it is given us, we 
have not wished to become what we are." 

Such was the tragedy of Michelangelo. His trouble 
was not a sudden stroke of misfortune in the flower of his 
days. The affliction was inborn. From the first dawn- 
ing of his consciousness, the worm of discontent was 



gnawing at his heart, the worm which grew with his 
growth throughout the eighty years of his life. All his 
feeling was tinged with melancholy. Never do we hear 
from him, as we so often hear from Beethoven, the 
golden call of joy. But his greatness lay in this, that 
he hore his sorrows like a cross, a second Christ carry- 
ing the burden of his destiny to the Golgotha of his 
daily work, eternally weary of existence, and yet not 
weary of activity. Or we may compare him with Sisy- 
phus; but whereas Sisyphus for ever rolled the stone, it 
was Michelangelo's fate, chiseling in rage and bitterness, 
to fashion the patient stone into works of art. For 
Rolland, Michelangelo was the genius of a great and 
vanished age ; he was the Christian, unhappy but patient, 
whereas Beethoven was the pagan, the great god Pan 
in the forest of music. Michelangelo shares the blame 
for his own suffering, the blame that attaches to weak- 
ness, the blame of those damned souls in Dante's first 
circle "who voluntarily gave themselves up to sadness." 
We must show him compassion as a man, but as we show 
compassion to one mentally diseased, for he is the para- 
dox of. "a heroic genius with an unheroic will." Bee- 
thoven is the hero as artist, and still more the hero as 
man; Michelangelo is only the hero as artist. As man, 
Michelangelo is the vanquished, unloved because he does 
not give himself up to love, unsatisfied because he has 
no longing for joy. He is the saturnine man, bom un- 
der a gloomy star, one who does not struggle against 
melancholy, but rather cherishes it, toying with his own 
.depression. "La mia allegrezza e la malincolia" — mel- 


ancholy is my delight. He frankly acknowledges that 
"a thousand joys are not worth as much as a single 
sorrow." From the beginning to the end of his life he 
seems to be hewing his way, cutting an interminable 
dark gallery leading towards the light. This way is his 
greatness, leading us all nearer towards eternity. 

Rolland feels that Michelangelo's life embraces a 
great heroism, but cannot give direct consolation to those 
who suffer. In this case, the one who lacks is not able 
to come to terms with destiny by his own strength, for 
he needs a mediator beyond this life. He needs God, 
"the refuge of all those who do not make a success of 
life here below! Faith which is apt to be nothing other 
\^ / than lack of faith in life, in the future, in oneself; a 

lack of courage; a lack of joy. We know upon how 
many defeats this painful victory is upbuilded." Rol- 
land here admires a work, and a sublime melancholy; 
but he does so with sorrowful compassion, and not with 
\j the intoxicating ardor inspired in him by the triumph 
-«^ of Beethoven. Michelangelo is chosen merely as an ex- 
ample of the amount of pain that may have to be en- 
h"? dured in our mortal lot. His example displays great- 

^ ness, but greatness that conveys a warning. Who con- 

quers pain in producing such work, is in truth a victor. 
Yet only half a victor; for it does not suffice to endure 
life. We must, this is the highest heroism, "know life, 
and yet love it." 



THE biographies of Beethoven and Michelangelo 
were fashioned out of the superabundance of 
life. They were calls to heroism, odes to en- ► 
ergy. The biography of Tolstoi, written some years 
later, is a requiem, a dirge. RoUand had been near to 
death from the accident in the Champs Elysees. On his 
recovery, the news of his beloved master's end came to 
him with profound significance and as a sublime exhorta- J' 

Tolstoi typifies for Rolland a third form of heroic 
suffering. Beethoven's infirmity came as a stroke of 
fate in mid career. Michelangelo's sad destiny was in- 
born. Tolstoi deliberately chose his own lot. All the 
externals of happiness promised enjoyment. He was in 
good health, rich, independent, famous; he had home, 
wife, and children. But the heroism of the man with- 
out cares lies in this, that he makes cares for himself, 
through doubt as to the best way to live. What plagued | 
Tolstoi was his conscience, his inexorable demand for 
truth. He thrust aside the freedom from care, the low , 
aims, the petty joys, of insincere beings. Like a fakir, ' 
he pierced his own breast with the thorns of doubt. 




Amid the torment, he blessed doubt, saying: "We must 
thank God if we be discontented with ourselves. A 
cleavage between life and the form in which it has to be 
lived, is the genuine sign of a true life, the precondition 
of all that is good. The only bad thing is to be con- 
tented with oneself." 

For Holland, this apparent cleavage is the true Tolstoi, 
P^ just as for Holland the man who struggles is the only man 
/) truly alive. Whilst Michelangelo believes himself to 
p see a divine life above this human life, Tolstoi sees a 

f genuine life behind the casual life of everyday, and to 

attain to the former he destroys the latter. The most 
celebrated artist in Europe throws away his art, like a 
knight throwing away his sword, to walk bare-headed 
along the penitent's path; he breaks family ties; he un- 
dermines his days and his nights with fanatical ques- 
.tions. Down to the last hour of his life he is at war 
I with himself, as he seeks to make peace with his con- 
science; he is a fighter for the invisible, that invisible 
which means so much more than happiness, joy, and 
^ ^ God; a fighter for the ultimate truth which he can share 

"v^ ' with no one. 

"^^ This heroic struggle is waged, like that of Beethoven 

and Michelangelo, in terrible isolation, is waged like 
theirs in airless spaces. His wife, his children, his 
friends, his enemies, all fail to understand him. They 
consider him a Don Quixote, for they cannot see the 
opponent with whom he wrestles, the opponent who is 
himself. None can bring him solace; none can help 
him. Merely that he may die at peace, he has to flee 


from his comfortable home on a bitter night in winter, 
to perish like a beggar by the wayside. Always at this 
supreme altitude to which mankind looks yearningly up, 
the atmosphere is ice-bound and lonely. Those who 
create for all must do so in solitude, each one of them a 
savior nailed to the cross, each suffering for a different 
faith; and yet suffering every one of them for all man- 



ON the cover of the Beethoven, the first of Hol- 
land's biographies, was an announcement of 
the lives of a number of heroic personalities. 
There was to be a life of Mazzini. With the aid of 
Malwida von Meysenbug, who had known the great 
revolutionist, Rolland had been collecting relevant docu- 
ments for years. Among other biographies, there was 
to be one of General Hoche ; and one of the great utopist, 
Thomas Paine. The original scheme embraced lives of 
many other spiritual heroes. Not a few of the biog- 
raphies had already been outlined in the author's mind. 
Above all, in his riper years, Rolland designed at one 
time to give a picture of the restful world in which 
Goethe moved; to pay a tribute of thanks to Shake- 
speare; and to discharge the debt of friendship to one 
little known to the world, Malwida von Meysenbug. 

These "vies des hommes illustres" have remained un- 
written. The only biographical studies produced by 
Rolland during the ensuing years were those of a more 
scientific character, dealing with Handel and Millet, 
and the minor biographies of Hugo Wolf and Berlioz. 
Thus the third grandly conceived creative cycle like- 



wise remained a fragment. But on this occasion the 
discontinuance of the work was not due to the disfavor 
of circumstances or to the indifference of readers. The 
abandonment of the scheme was the outcome of the au- 
thor's own moral conviction. The historian in him had 
come to recognize that his most intimate energy, truth, 
was not reconcilable with the desire to create enthusiasm. 
In the single instance of Beethoven it had been possible 
to preserve historical accuracy and still to bring solace, 
for here the soul had been lifted towards joy by the 
very spirit of music. In Michelangelo's case a certain 
strain had been felt in the attempt to present as a con- 
queror of the world this man who was a prey to inborn 
melancholy, who, working in stone, was himself petrified 
to marble. Even Tolstoi was a herald rather of true 
life, than of rich and enthralling life, life worth living. 
When, finally, Rolland came to deal with Mazzini, he 
realized, as he sympathetically studied the embitterment 
of the forgotten patriot in old age, that it would either 
be necessary to falsify the re^cord if edification were to 
be derived from this biography* or else, by recording the 
truth, to provide readers with further grounds for de- 
pression. He recognized that there are truths which 
love for mankind must lead us to conceal. Of a sudden 
he has personal experience of the conflict, of the tragical 
dilemma, which Tolstoi had had to face. He became 
aware of "the dissonance between his pitiless vision 
which enabled him to see all the horror of reality, and 
his compassionate heart which made him desire to veil 
these horrors and retain his readers' affection. We have 


all experienced this tragical struggle. How often has 

the artist been filled with distress when contemplating a 
truth which he will have to describe. For this same 
healthy and virile truth, which for some is as natural 
as the air they breathe, is absolutely insupportable to 
others, who are weak through the tenor of their lives or 
through simple kindliness. What are we to do? Are 
we to suppress this deadly truth, or to utter it unspar- 
ingly? Continually does the dilemma force itself upon 
us, Truth or Love?" 

Such was the overwhelming experience which came 
upon Rolland in mid career. It is impossible to write 
the history of great men, both as historian recording 
truth, and as lover of mankind who desires to lead his 
fellows upwards towards perfection. To Rolland, the 
enthusiast, the historian's function now seemed the less 
important of the two. For what is the truth about a 
man? "It is so difficult to describe a personality." 
Every man is a riddle, not for others alone, but for him- 
self likewise. It is presumptuous to claim a knowledge 
of one who is not known even by himself. Yet we can- 
not help passing judgments on character, for to do so is 
a necessary part of life. Not one of those we believe 
ourselves to know, not one of our friends, not one of 
those we love, is as we see him. In many cases he is ut- 
terly different from our picture. We wander amid the 
phantoms we create. Yet we have to judge; we have to 

Justice to himself, justice to those whose names he 
honored, veneration for the truth, compassion for his 


fellows — all these combined to arrest his half-completed 
design. Rolland laid aside the heroic biographies. He, 
would rather be silent than surrender to that cowardly 
idealism which touches up lest it should have to re- 
pudiate. He halted on a road which he had recognized 
to be impassable, but he did not forget his aim "to de- 
fend greatness on earth." Since these historic figures 
would not serve the ends of his faith, his faith created 
a figure for itself. Since history refused to supply him 
with the image of the consoler, he had recourse to art, 
fashioning amid contemporary life the hero he desired, 
creating out of truth and fiction his own and our own 
Jean Christophe. 


It is really astonishing to note how 
the epic and the philosophical are 
here compressed within the same 
work. In respect of form we have 
so beautiful a whole. Reaching out- 
wards, the work touches the infinite, 
touches both art and life. In fact 
we may say of this romance, that it 
is in no respects limited except in 
point of aesthetic form, and that 
where it transcends form it comes into 
contact with the infinite. I might 
compare it to a beautiful island lying 
between two seas. 

Schiller to Goethe concern- 
ing Wilhelm Meister. 

October 19, 1796. 



UPON the last page of his great work, Rolland 
relates the well-known legend of St. Christo- 
pher. The ferryman was roused at night by a 
little boy who wished to be carried across the stream. 
With a smile the good-natured giant shouldered the light 
burden. But as he strode through the water the weight 
he was carrying grew heavy and heavier, until he felt 
he was about to sink in the river. Mustering all his 
strength, he continued on his way. When he reached the 
other shore, gasping for breath, the man recognized that 
he had been carrying the entire meaning of the world. 
Hence his name, Christophorus. 

Rolland has known this long night of labor. When 
he assumed the fateful burden, when he took the work 
upon his shoulders, he meant to recount but a single life. 
As he proceeded, what had been light grew heavy. He 
found that he was carrying the whole destiny of his gen- 
eration, the meaning of the entire world, the message of 
love, the primal secret of creation. We who saw him 
making his way alone through the night, without recog- 
nition, without helpers, without a word of cheer, without 
a friendly light winking at him from the further shore, 



imagined that he must succumb. From the hither bank 
the unbelievers followed him with shouts of scornful 
laughter. But he pressed manfully forward during 
these ten years, what time the stream of life swirled 
ever more fiercely around him ; and he fought his way in 
the end to the unknown shore of completion. With 
bowed back, but with the radiance in his eyes undimmed, 
did he finish fording the river. Long and heavy night 
of travail, wherein he walked alone! Dear burden, 
which he carried for the sake of those who are to come 
afterwards, bearing it from our shore to the still untrod- 
den shore of the new world. Now the crossing had been 
safely made. When the good ferryman raised his eyes, 
the night seemed to be over, the darkness vanished. 
Eastward the heaven was all aglow. Joyfully he wel- 
comed the dawn of the coming day towards which he 
had carried this emblem of the day that was done. 

Yet what was reddening there was naught but the 
bloody cloud-bank of war, the flame of burning Europe, 
the flame that was to consume the spirit of the elder 
world. Nothing remained of our sacred heritage be- 
yond this, that faith had bravely struggled from the 
shore of yesterday to reach our again distracted world. 
The conflagration has burned itself out; once more night 
has lowered. But our thanks speed towards you, ferry- 
man, pious wanderer, for the path you have trodden 
through the darkness. We thank you for your labors, 
which have brought the world a message of hope. For 
the sake of us all have you marched on through the 


murky night. The flame of hatred will yet be extin- 
guished; the spirit of friendship will again unite people 
with people. It will dawn, that new day. 



ROMAIN HOLLAND was now in his fortieth 
year. His life seemed to be a field of ruins. 
The banners of his faith, the manifestoes to 
1^6 the French people and to humanity, had been torn to 

rags by the storms of reality. His dramas had been 
buried on a single evening. The figures of the heroes, 
which were designed to form a stately series of historic 
bronzes, stood neglected, three as isolated statues, while 
the others were but rough-casts prematurely destroyed. 

Yet the sacred flame still burned within him. With 
heroic determination he threw the figures once more into 
the fiery crucible of his heart, melting the metal that it 
might be recast in new forms. Since his feeling for 
truth made it impossible for him to find the supreme 
consoler in any actual historical figure, he resolved to 
create a genius of the spirit, who should combine and 
typify what the great ones of all times had suffered, 
a hero who should not belong to one nation but to all^ 
peoples. No longer confining himself to historical 
truth, he looked for a higher harmony in the new config- 
uration of truth and fiction. He fashioned the epic of 
an imaginary personality. ^ 



As if by miracle, all that he had lost was now re- 
gained. The vanished fancies of his school days, the boy 
artist's dream of a great artist who should stand erect 
against the world, the young man's vision on the Jani- 
culum, surged up anew. The figures of his dramas, 
Aert and the Girondists, arose in a fresh embodiment; 
the im£^ges of Beethoven, Michelangelo, and Tolstoi, 
emerging from the rigidity of history, took their places 
among our contemporaries. Rolland's disillusionments 
had been but precious experiences; his trials, but a lad- 
der to higher things. What had seemed like an end 
became the true beginning, that of his masterwork, Jean 



JEAN CHRISTOPHE had long been beckoning the 
poet from a distance. The first message had 
come to the lad in the Normal School. During 
those years, young Holland had planned the writing of a 
romance, the history of a single-hearted artist shattered 
on the rocks of the world. The outlines were vague; 
the only definite idea was that the hero was to be a musi- 
cian whose contemporaries failed to understand him. 
The dream came to nothing, like so many of the dreams 

\ of youth. 

But the vision returned in Rome, when Rolland's 
poetic fervor, long pent by the restrictions of school life, 
broke forth with elemental energy. Malwida von Mey- 
senbug had told him much concerning the tragical strug- 
gles of her intimate friends Wagner and Nietzsche. 
RoUand came to realize that heroic figures, though they 
may be obscured by the tumult and dust of the hour, 
belong in truth to every age. Involuntarily he learned 
to associate the unhappy experiences of these recent 

,»heroes with those of the figures in his vision. In Parsi- 
fal, the guileless Fool, by pity enlightened, he recog- 
nized an emblem of the artist whose intuition guides him 


Romain Rolland at llu- lime of writing ]ean Christophe 


through the world, and who comes to know the world 
through experience. One evening, as Rolland walked 
on the Janiculum, the vision of Jean Christophe grew 
suddenly clear. His hero was to be a pure-hearted 
musician, a German, visiting (5ther lands, finding his' 
god in Life; a free mortal spirit, inspired with a faith 
in greatness, and with faith even in mankind, though 
mankind rejected him. ^ 

The happy days of freedom in Rome were followed 
by many years of arduous labor, during which the duties 
of daily life thrust the image into the background. 
Rolland had for a season become a man of action, and"^ 
had no time for dreams. Then came new experiences/ 
to reawaken the slumbering vision. I have told of his^ 
visit to Beethoven's house in Bonn, and of the effect 
produced on his mind by the realization of the tragedy 
of the great composer's life. This gave a new direction 
to his thoughts. His hero was to be a Beethoven redivi- 
vus, a German, a lonely fighter, but a conqueror. 
Whereas the immature youth had idealized defeat, im^ 
agining that to fail was to be vanquished, the man of 
riper years perceived that true heroism lay in this, "to 
know life, and yet to love it." Thus splendidly did the ,. 
new horizon open as setting for the long cherished 
figure, the dawn of eternal victory in our earthly strug- 
gle. The conception of Jean Christophe was complete. 

Rolland now knew his hero. But it was necessary 
that he should learn to describe that hero's counterpart, 
that hero's eternal enemy, life, reality. Whoever wishes 
to delineate a combat fairly, must know both champions. 


Rolland became intimately acquainted with Jean Chris- 
tophe's opponent through the experiences of these years 
of disillusionment, through his study of literature, 
through his realization of the falseness of society and of 
the indifference of the crowd. It was necessary for him 
to pass through the purgatorial fires of the years in 
Paris before he could begin the work of description. 
At twenty, Rolland had made acquaintance only with 
himself, and was therefore competent to describe no 
more than his own heroic will to purity. At thirty he 
had become able to depict likewise the forces of resist- 
ance. All the hopes he had cherished ^nd all the dis- 
appointments he had suffered jostled one another in the 
channel of this new existence. The innumerable news- 
paper cuttings, collected for years, almost without a 
definite aim, magically arranged themselves as material 
for the growing work. Personal griefs were seen to 
have been valuable experience; the boy's dream swelled 
to the proportions of a life history. 

During the year 1895 the broad lines were finished. 
As prelude, Rolland gave a few scenes from J'ean 
Christophe's youth. During 1897, in a remote Swiss 
hamlet, the first chapters were penned, those in which 
the music begins as it were spontaneously. Then (so 
definitely was the whole design now shaping itself in his 
mind) he wrote some of the chapters for the fifth and 
ninth volumes. Like a musical composer, Rolland fol- 
lowed up particular themes as his mood directed, themes 
which his artistry was to weave harmoniously into the 
great symphony. Order came from within, and was 


not imposed from without. The work was not done 
in any strictly serial succession. The chapters seemed 
to come into being as chance might direct. Often they 
were inspired by the landscape, and were colored by out- 
ward events. Seippel, for instance, shows that Jean 
Christophe's flight into the forest was suggested by the 
last journey of Rolland's beloved teacher Tolstoi. With/- 
appropriate symbolism, this work of European scope 
was composed in various parts of Europe; the opening 
scenes, as we have said, in a Swiss hamlet ; V adolescent 
in Zurich and by the shores of Lake Zug; much in Paris; 
much in Italy; Antoinette in Oxford; while, after nearly 
fifteen years' labor, the work was completed in Baveno. 
In February, 1902, the first volume, L'aube, was pub- 
lished in "Les cahiers de la quinzaine" and the last 
serial number was issued on October 20, 1912. When 
the fifth serial issue. La foire sur la place, appeared, a 
publisher, Ollendorff, was found willing to produce the 
whole romance in book form. Before the French orig- 
inal was completed, English, SflBWsh, and German trans- 
lations were in course of pubttcation, and Seippel's val- 
uable biography had also appeared. Thus when the 
work was crowned by the Academy in 1913, its reputa- 
tion was already established. In the fifth decade of his 
life, Rolland had at length become famous. His mes- 
senger Jean Christophe was a living conterjigorary figure, 
on pilgrimage through the world. 



WHAT, then, is Jean Christophe? Can it be 
properly spoken of as a romance? This 
book, which is as comprehensive as the 
world, an orbis pictus of our generation, cannot be de- 
scribed by a single all-embracing term. RoUand once 
said: "Any work which can be circumscribed by a 
definition is a dead work." Most applicable to Jean 
Christophe is the refusal to permit so living a creation 
to be hidebound by the restrictions of a name. Jean 
Christophe is an attempt to create a totality, to write a 
book that is universal and encyclopedic, not merely nar- 
rative; a book which continually returns to the central 
problem of the world-all. It combines insight into the 
soul with an outlook into the age. It is the portrait of 
an entire generation, and simultaneously it is the biog- 
raphy of an imaginary individual. Grautoff has termed 
it "a cross-section of our society"; but it is likewise the 
'' religious confession of its author. It is critical, but at 
the same time productive; at once a criticism of reality, 
and a creative analysis of the unconscious; it is a sym- 
>^ phony in words, and a fresco of contemporary ideas. It 
is an ode to solitude, and likewise an Eroica of the great 



European fellowship. But whatever definition we at- 
tempt, can deal with a part only, for the whole eludes 
definition. In the field of literary endeavor, the nature'^ 4 
of a moral or ethical act cannot be precisely specified.^ 
Rolland's sculptural energies enable him to shape the 
inner humanity of what he is describing; his idealism 
is a force that strengthens faith, a tonic of vitality. His 
]ean Christophe is an attempt towards justice, an attempt 
to understand life. It is also an attempt towards faith, 
an attempt to love life. These coalesce in his moraf 
demand (the only one he has ever formulated for the 
free human being), "to know life, and yet to love it." > 

The essential aim of the book is explained by its hero 
when he refers to the disparateness of contemporary 
life, to the manner in which its art has been severed into 
a thousand fragments. "The Europe of to-day no longer 
possesses a common book; it has no poem, no prayer, no 
act of faith which is the common heritage of all. This 
lack is fatal to the art of our time. There is no one who 
has written for all; no one who has fought for all.'V 
Rolland hoped to remedy the evil. He wished to write 
for all nations, and not for his fatherland alone. Not 
artists and men of letters merely, but all who are eager 
to learn about life and about their own age, were to be 
supplied with a picture of the environment in which 
they were living. Jean Christophe gives expression to^ 
his creator's will, saying: "Display everyday life to 
everyday people — the life that is deeper and wider than 
the ocean. The least among us bears infinity within him 
. . . Describe the simple life of one of these simple 


^ men; . . . describe it simply, as it actually happens. 

Do not trouble about phrasing; do not dissipate your en- 

) ergies, as do so many contemporary writers, in straining 

V" -■ for artistic eflfects. You wish to speak to the many, and 

']/ you must therefore speak their language. . . . Throw 

yourself into what you create; think your own thoughts; 

feel your own feelings. Let your heart set the rhythm 

Vto the words. Style is soul." 

]ean Christophe was designed to be, and actually is, a 
work of life, and not a work of art; it was to be, and is, 
a book as comprehensive as humanity; for "I'art est la 
vie domptee"; art is life broken in. The book differs 
from the majority of the imaginative writings of our 
day in that it does not make the erotic problem its cen- 
tral feature. But it has no central feature. It at- 
tempts to comprehend all problems, all those which are 
a part of reality, to contemplate them from within, "from 
the spectrum of an individual" as Grautoff expresses it. 
The center is the inner life of the individual human 
i being. The primary motif of the romance is to expound 
how this individual sees life, or rather, how he learns 
to see it. The book may therefore be described as an 
educational romance in the sense in which that term ap- 
plies to Wilhelm Meister. The educational romance 
aims at showing how, in years of apprenticeship and 
years of travel, a human being makes acquaintance with 
the lives of others, and thus acquires mastery over his 
own life; how experience teaches him to transform into 
individual views the concepts he has had transmitted to 
him by others, many of which are erroneous; how he be- 


comes enabled to transmute the world so that it ceases 
to be an outward phenomenon and becomes an inward 
reality. The educational romance traces the change 
from curiosity to knowledge, from emotional prejudice 
to justice. . ^ 

But this educational romance is simultaneously a his- 
torical romance, a "comedie humaine" in Balzac's sense; 
an "histoire contemporaine" in Anatole France's sense; 
and in many respects also it is a political romance. But 
Rolland, with his more catholic method of treatment, 
does not merely depict the history of his generation, but 
discusses the cultural history of the age, exhibiting the 
radiations of the time spirit, concerning himself with 
poesy and with socialism, with music and with the fine 
arts, with the woman's question and with racial prob- 
lems. Jean Christophe the man is a whole man, and 
Jean Christophe the book ejnbraces all that is human in 
the spiritual cosmos. This romance ignores no ques- 
tions; it seeks to overcome all obstacles; it has a uni- 
versal life, beyond the frontiers of nations, occupations, 
and creeds. 

It is a romancej^of art, a romance of music, as well 
as a historical romance. Its hero is not a saunterer 
through life, like the heroes of Goethe, Novalis, and 
Stendhal, but a creator. As with Gottfried Keller's Der 
grilne Heinrich, in this book the path through the exter- 
nals of life leads simultaneously to the inner world, to 
art, to completion. The birth of music, the growth of 
genius, is individually and yet typically presented. In 
his portrayal of experience, the author does not merely 


, aim at giving an analysis of the world; he desires also 
I to expound the mystery of creation, the primal secret of 
! life. 

Furthermore, the book furnishes an outlook on the 
universe, thus becoming a philosophic, a religious ro- 
mance. The struggle for the totality of life, signifies for 
Rolland the struggle to understand its significance and 
origin, t he strugg le for God, for one ^ own pprsnn al 
God. The rhythm ol the individual existence is in 
Search of an ultimate harmony between itself and the 
rhythm of the universal existence. From this earthly 
sphere, the Idea flows back into the infinite in an exultant 
canticle. - - 

Such a wealth of design and execution was unprece* 
dented. In one work alone, Tolstoi's War and Peace, 
had Rolland encountered a similar conjuncture of a his- 
torical picture of the world with a process of inner puri- 
fication and a state of religious ecstasy. Here only had 
he discerned the like passionate sense of responsibility 
towards truth. But Rolland diverged from this splendid 
example by placing his tragedy in the temporal environ- 
ment of the life of to-day, instead of amid the wars of 
Napoleonic times; and by endowing his hero with the 
heroism, not of arms, but of the invisible struggles which 
, the artist is constrained to fight. Here, as always, the 
most human of artists was his model, the man to whom art 
was not an end in itself, but was ever subordinate to an 
ethical purpose. In accordance with the spirit of Tol- 
stoi's teaching, Jean Christophe was not to be a literary 
y work, but a deed. For this reason, Rolland's great sym- 



phony cannot be subjected to the restrictions of a con- 
venient formula. The book ignores all the ordinary 
canons, and is none the less a characteristic product of 
its time. Standing outside literature, it is an overwhelm- 
ingly powerful literary manifestation. Often enough it 
ignores the rules of art, and is yet a most perfect ex- 
pression of art. It is not a book, but a message; it is not \ ^ 
a history, but is nevertheless a record of our time. More 
than a book, it is the daily miracle of revelation of a 
man who lives the truth, whose whole life is truth. 



AS a romance, Jean Christophe has no prototype 
in literature; but the characters in the book 
have prototypes in real life. Rolland the his- 
torian does not hesitate to borrow some of the linea- 
ments of his heroes from the biographies of great men. 
In many cases, too, the figures he portrays recall per- 
sonalities in contemporary life. In a manner peculiar 
to himself, by a process of which he was the originator, 
he combines the imaginative with the historical, fusing 
individual qualities in a new synthesis. His delinea- 
I tions tend to be mosaics, rather than entirely new im- 
\ aginative creations. In ultimate analysis, his method of 
i literary composition invariably recalls the work of a 
i musical composer; he paraphrases thematic reminis- 
cences, without imitating too closely. The reader of 
Jean Christophe often fancies that, as in a key-novel, 
he has recognized some public personality; but ere long 
he finds that the characteristics of another figure intrude. 
Thus each portrait is freshly constructed out of a hun- 
dred diverse elements. 

Jean Christophe seems at first to be Beethoven. Seip- 
pel has aptly described La vie de Beethoven as a preface 

172 -^ • 


to Jean Christophe. In truth the opening volumes of 
the novel show us a Jean Christophe whose image is 
modeled after that of the great master. But it becomes 
plain in due course that we are being shown something 
more than one single musician, that Jean Christophe \V 
is the quintessence of all great musicians. The figures ' » 
in the pantheon of musical history are presented in a 
composite portrait; or, to use a musical analogy, Bee- 
thoven, the master musician, is the root of the chord. 
Jean Christophe grew up in the Rhineland, Beethoven's 
home; Jean Christophe, like Beethoven, had Flemish 
blood in his veins; His mother,, too, was of peasant ori- 
gin, his father a drunkard. Nevertheless, Jean Chris- 
tophe exhibits numerous traits-^propfir to Friedemann 
Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Again, the letter 
which young Beethoven redivivus is made to write to the 
grand duke is modeled oil the historical document; the 
episode of his acquaintanceship with Frau von Kerich 
recalls Beethoven and Frau von Breuning. But many___ 
incidents, like the scene m t^e castle, remind the reader 
of Mozart's youth; and Mozart's little love episode with 
Rose Cannabich is transferred to the life of Jean Chris- 
tophe. The older Jean Christophe grows, the less does ' 
his personality recall that of Beethoven. In external 
characteristics he grows rather to resemble Cluck and 
Handel. Of the latter, Rolland writes elsewhere that 
"his formidable bluntness alarmed every one." Word 
for word we can apply to Jean Christophe, Rolland's de- 
scription of Handel: "He was independent and irri- 
table, and could never adapt himself to the conventions 


of social life. He insisted on calling a spade a spade, 
and twenty times a day he aroused annoyance in all who 
had to associate with him." The life history of Wagner 
had much influence upon the delineation of Jean Chris- 
tophe. The rebellious flight to Paris, a flight originat- 
ing, as Nietzsche phrases it, "from the depths of in- 
stinct"; the hack-work done for minor publishers; the 
sordid details of daily life — all these things have been 
transposed almost verbatim into Jean Christophe from 
Wagner's autobiographical sketches Ein deutscher Mu- 
siker in Paris. 

Ernst Decsey's life of Hugo Wolf was, however, de- 
cisive in its influence upon the configuration of the lead- 
ing character in Rolland's book, upon the almost violent 
departure from the picture of Beethoven. Not merely 
do we find individual incidents taken from Decsey's 
book, such as the hatred for Brahms, the visit paid to 
Hassler (Wagner), the musical criticism published in 
"Dionysos" {"^Wiener Salonblatt"), the tragi-comedy of 
the unsuccessful overture to Penthesilea, and the memo- 
rable visit to Professor Schulz (Emil Kaufmann). Fur- 
thermore, Wolf's whole character, his method of musical 
creation, is transplanted into the soul of Jean Christophe. 
His primitive force of production, the volcanic eruptions 
flooding the world with melody, shooting forth into eter- 
nity four songs in the space of a day, with subsequent 
months of inactivity, the brusque transition from the 
joyful activity of creation to the gloomy brooding of 
inertia — this form of genius which was native to Hugo 
Wolf becomes part of the tragical equipment of Jean 


Christophe. Whereas his physical characteristics re- 
mind us of Handel, Beethoven, and Gluck, his mental 
type is assimilated rather in its convulsive energy to that 
of the great song-writer. With this difference, that to 
Jean Christophe, in his more brilliant hours, there is 
superadded the cheerful serenity, the childlike joy, of 
Schubert. He has a dual nature. Jean Christophe is i 
the classical type and the modem type of musician com- 
bined into a single personality, so that he contains even 
many of the characteristics of Gustav Mahler and Cesar 
Frank. He is not an individual musician, the figure of 
one living in a particular generation; he is the sublima- 
tion of music as a whole. 

Nevertheless, in Jean Christophe's life we find inci- 
dents deriving from the adventures of those who were 
not musicians. From Goethe's Wahrheit und Dichtung 
comes the encounter with the French players; I have 
already said that the story of Tolstoi's last days was 
represented in Jean Christophe's flight into the forest 
(though in this latter case, from the figure of a benighted 
traveler, Nietzsche's countenance glances at us for a mo- 
ment) . Grazia typifies the well-beloved who never dies ; 
Antoinette is a picture of Renan's sister Henriette; Fran- 
goise Oudon, the actress, recalls Eleanora Duse, but 
in certain respects she reminds us of Suzanne Depres. 
Emmanuel contains, in addition to traits that are purely 
imaginary, lineaments that are drawn respectively from 
Charles Louis Philippe and Charles Peguy; among the 
minor figures, lightly sketched, we seem to see Debussy, 
Verhaeren, and Moreas. When La foire sur la place 


was published, the figures of Roussin the deputy, Levy- 
Coeur, the critic, Gamache the newspaper proprietor, 
and Hecht the music seller, hurt the feelings of not a 
few persons against whom no shafts had been aimed by 
RoUand. The portraits had been painted from studies 
of the commonplace, and typified the incessantly re- 
curring mediocrities which are eternally real no less 
than are figures of exquisite rarity. 

One portrait, however, that of Olivier, would seem to 
have been purely fictive. For this very reason, Olivier 
is felt to be the most living of all the characters, pre- 
cisely because we cannot but feel that in many respects 
we have before us the artist's own picture, displaying 
not so much the circumstantial destiny as the human es- 
sence of Romain Rolland. Like the classical painters, 
he has, almost unmarked, introduced himself slightly 
disguised amid the historical scenario. The descrip- 
tion is that of his own figure, slender, refined, slightly 
stooping; here we see his own energy, inwardly directed, 
and consuming itself in idealism; Rolland's enthusiasm 
is displayed in Olivier's lucid sense of justice, in his 
resignation as far as his personal lot is concerned, though 
he never resigns himself to the abandonment of his cause. 
It is true that in the novel this gentle spirit, the pupil of 
Tolstoi and Renan, leaves the field of action to his 
friend, and vanishes, the symbol of a past world. But 
Jean Christophe was merely a dream, the longing for 
energy sometimes felt by the man of gentle disposition. 
Olivier-Rolland limns this dream of his youth, designing 
upon his literary canvas the picture of his own life. 



AN abundance of figures and events, an impres- 
sive multiplicity of contrasts, are united by a 
single element, music. In Jean Christophe, 
music is the form as well as the content. For the sake of 
simplicity we have to call the work a romance or a novel. 
But nowhere can it be said to attach to the epic tradition 
of any previous writers of romance: whether to that of 
Balzac, Zola, and Flaubert, who aimed at analyzing so- 
ciety into its chemical elements; or to that of Goethe, 
Gottfried Keller, and Stendhal, who sought to secure a 
crystallization of the soul. Rolland is neither a narra- 
tor, nor what may be termed a poetical romancer; he 
is a musician who weaves everything into harmony. In 
ultimate analysis, Jean Christophe is a symphony born 
out of the spirit of music, just as in Nietzsche's view 
classical tragedy was bom out of that spirit; its laws are 
not those of the narrative, of the lecture, but those of 
controlled emotion. Rolland is a musician, not an epic 

Even qua narrator, Rolland does not possess what we 
term style. He does not write a classical French; he 

has no stable architechtonic in his sentences, no definite 



rhythm, no typical hue in his wording, no diction pe- 
culiar to himself. His personality does not obtrude 
itself, since he does not form the matter but is formed 
thereby. He possesses an inspired power of adaptation 
to the rhythm of the events he is describing, to the mood 
of the situation. The writer's mind acts as a resonator. 
In the opening lines the tempo is set. Then the rhythm 
surges on through the scene, carrying with it the epi- 
sodes, which often seem like individual brief poems each 
sustained by its own melody — songs and airs which ap- 
pear and pass, rapidly giving place to new movements. 
Some of the preludes in Jean Christophe are examples of 
pure song-craft, delicate arabesques and capriccios, 
islands of tone amid the roaring sea; then come other 
moods, gloomy ballads, nocturnes breathing elemental 
energy and sadness. When Rolland's writing is the out- 
come of musical inspiration, he shows himself one of 
the masters of language. At times, however, he speaks 
to us as historian, as critical student of the age. Then 
the splendor fades. Such historical and critical pas- 
sages are like the periods of cold recitative in musical 
drama, periods which are requisite in order to give 
continuity to the story, and which thus fulfill an intel- 
lectual need, however much our aroused feelings may 
make us regret their interpolation. The ancient conflict 
between the musician and the historian persists unrecon- 
ciled in Rolland's work. 

Only through the spirit of music can the architectonic 
of Jean Christophe be understood. However plastic the 
elaboration of the characters, their effective force is dis- 


played solely in so far as they are thematically 
interwoven into the resounding tide of life's modulations. 
The essential matter is always the rhythm which these 
characters emit, and which issues most powerfully of all 
from Jean Christophe, the mr.ster of music. The struc- 
ture, the inner architectural conception of the work, can- 
not be understood by those who merely contemplate its 
obvious subdivision into ten volumes. This is dictated 
by the exigencies of book production. The essential 
caesuras are those between the lesser sections, each of 
which is written in a different key. Only a trained 
musician, one familiar with the great symphonies, can 
follow in detail the way in which the epic poem Jean 
Christophe is constructed as a symphony, an Eroica ; only 
a musician can realize how in this work the most com- 
prehensive type of musical composition is transposed 
into the world of speech. 

Let the reader recall the chorale-like undertone, the 
booming note of the Rhine. We seem to be listening to 
some primal energy, to the stream of life in its roaring 
progress through eternity. A little melody rises above 
the general roar. Jean Christophe, the child, has been 
bom out of the great music of the universe, to fuse in 
turn with the endless stream of sound. The first figures 
make a dramatic entry; the mystical chorale gradually 
subsides; the mortal drama of childhood begins. By 
degrees the stage is filled with personalities, with melo- 
dies; voices answer the lisping syllables of Jean Chris- 
tophe; until, finally, the virile tones of Jean Christophe 
and the gentler voice of Olivier come to dominate the 


theme. Meanwhile, all the forms of life and music are 
unfolded in concords and discords. Thus we have the 
tragical outbreaks of a melancholy like that of Beetho- 
ven; fugues upon the themes of art; vigorous dance 
scenes, as in Le buisson ardent; odes to the infinite and 
songs to nature, pure like those of Schubert. Wonder- 
ful is the interconnection of the whole, and marvelous 
is the way in which the tide of sound ebbs once more. 
The dramatic tumult subsides; the last discords are re- 
solved into the great harmony. In the final scene, the 
opening melody recurs, to the accompaniment of invis- 
ible choirs; the roaring river flows out into the limitless 

Thus Jean Christophe, the Eroica, ends in a chorale to 
the infinite powers of life, ends in the undying ocean 
of music. Rolland wished to convey the notion of 
these eternal forces of life symbolically through the 
imagery of the element which for us mortals brings us 
into closest contact with the infinite; he wished to typify 
jthese forces in the art which is timeless, which is free, 
'which knows nothing of national limitations, which is 
eternal. Thus music is at once the form and the con- 
tent of the work, "simultaneously its kernel and its 
shell," as Goethe said of nature. Nature is ever the law 
of laws for art. 



JEAN CHRISTOPHE took the form of a book of 
life rather than that of a romance of art, for Hol- 
land does not make a specific distinction between 
poietic types of men and those devoid of creative genius, 
but inclines rather to see in the artist the most human 
among men.] Just as for Goethe, true life was identical 
with activity; so for Holland, true life is identical with 
production. One who shuts himself away, who has no 
surplus being, who fails to radiate energy that shall 
flow beyond the narrow limits of his individuality to 
become part of the vital energy of the future, is doubt- 
less still a human being, but is not genuinely alive. 
There may occur a death of the soul before the death 
of the body, just as there is a life that outlasts one's 
own life. The real boundary across which we pass from 
life to extinction is not constituted by physical death but 
the cessation of effective influence. Creation alone is 
life. "There is only one delight, that of creation. 
Other joys are but shadows, alien to the world though 
they hover over the world. Desire is creative desire; 
for love, for genius, for action. One and all are born 
out of ardor. It matters not whether we are creating 




in the sphere of the body or in the sphere of the spirit. 
Ever, in creation, we are seeking to escape from the 
prison of the body, to throw ourselves into the storm of 
life, to be as gods. To create is to slay death." 
. Creation, therefore, is the meaning of life, its secret, 

::^^' its innermost kernel. While Rolland almost always 
chooses an artist for his hero, he does not make this 
choice in the arrogance of the romance writer who likes 
to contrast the melancholy genius with the dull crowd. 
His aim is to draw nearer to the primal problems of ex- 
istence. In the work of art, transcending time and 
space, the eternal miracle of generation out of nothing 
(or out of the all) is made manifest to the senses, while 
simultaneously its mystery is made plain to the intelli- 
i\ gence. For Rolland, artistic creation is the problem of 
// problems precisely because the artist is the most human 
' ' of men. Everywhere Rolland threads his way through 
the obscure labyrinth of creative work, that he may draw 
near to the burning moment of spiritual receptivity, to 
the painful act of giving birth. He watches Michel- 
angelo shaping pain in stone; Beethoven bursting forth 
in melody; Tolstoi listening to the heart-beat of doubt 
in his own laden breast. To each, Jacob's angel is re- 
vealed in a different form, but for all alike the esctatic 
force of the divine struggle continues to burn. Through- 
out the years, Rolland's sole endeavor has been to dis- 
' cover this ultimate type of artist, this primitive element 
of creation, much as Goethe was in search of the arche- 
typal plant. Rolland wishes to discover the essential 
creator, the essential act of creation, for he knows that 


in this mystery are comprised the root and the blossoms 
of the whole of life's enigma. 

As historian he had depicted the birth of art in hu- 
manity. Now, as poet, he was approaching the same 
problem in a different form, and was endeavoring to 
depict the birth of art in one individual. In his His- 
toire de Vopera avant Lully et Scarlatti, and in his 
Musiciens d'autrefois, he had shown how music, "blos- 
soming throughout the ages," begins to form its buds; 
and how, grafted upon different racial stems and upon 
different periods, it grows in new forms. But here be- 
gins the mystery of creation. Every beginning is 
wrapped in obscurity; and since the path of all mankind 
is symbolically indicated in each individual, the mystery 
recurs in each individual's experience. Rolland is 
aware that the intellect can never unravel this ultimate 
mystery. He does not share the views of the monists, 
for whom creation has become trivialized to a mechani- 
cal effect which they would explain by talking of primi- 
tive gases and by similar verbiage. He knows that na- 
ture is modest, and that in her secret hours of genera- 
tion she would fain elude observation; he knows that we 
are unable to watch her at work in those moments when 
crystal is joining to crystal, and when flowers are spring- 
ing out of the buds. Nothing does she hide more jeal- 
ously than her inmost magic, everlasting procreation, the 
very secret of infinity. 

Creation, therefore, the life of life, is for Rolland 
a mystic power, far transcending human will and human 
intelligence. In every soul there lives, side by side with 



the conscious individuality, a stranger as guest. "Man's 
chief endeavor since he became man has been to build 
up dams that shall control this inner sea by the powers 
of reason and religion. But when a storm comes (and 
those most plenteously endowed are peculiarly subject 
to such storms), the elemental powers are set free." 
Hot waves flood the soul, streaming forth out of the un- 
conscious; not out of the will, but against the will; out 
of a super-will. This "dualism of the soul and its 
daimon" cannot be overcome by the clear light of rea- 
son. The energy of the creative spirit surges from the 
depths of the blood, often from parents and remoter 
progenitors, not entering through the doors and windows 
of the normal waking consciousness, but permeating the 
whole being as atmospheric spirits may be conceived 
to do. Of a sudden the artist is seized as by intoxica- 
tion, inspired by a will independent of the will, sub- 
jected to the power "of the ineffable riddle of the world 
and of life," as Goethe terms the daimonic. The divine 
breaks upon him like a hurricane; or opens before him 
like an abyss, "dieu abime," into which he hurls himself 
unreflectingly. In Holland's sense, we must not say 
that the true artist has his art, but that the art has the 
artist. Art is the hunter, the artist is the quarry ; art is 
the victor, whereas the artist is happy in that he is 
again and again and forever the vanquished. Thus be- 
fore creation we must have the creator. Genius is pre- 
destined. At work in the channels of the blood, while 
the senses still slumber, thi^ power from without pre- 
pares the great magic for the child. Wonderful is Rol- 


land's description of the way in which Jean Christophe's 
soul was already filled with music before he had heard 
the first notes. The daimon is there within the youth- 
ful breast, awaiting but a sign before stirring, before 
making himself known to the kindred spirit within the 
dual soul. When the boy, holding his grandfather's 
hand, enters the church and is greeted by an outburst of 
music from the organ, the genius within acclaims the 
work of the distant brother and the child is filled with 
joy. Again, driving in a carriage, and listening to the 
melodious rhythm of the horse's hoofs, his heart goes 
out in unconscious brotherhood to the kindred element. 
Then comes one of the most beautiful passages in the 
book, probably the most beautiful of those treating of 
music. The little Jean Christophe clambers on to the 
music stool in front of the black chest filled with magic, 
and for the first time thrusts his fingers into the unend- 
ing thicket of concords and discords, where each note 
that he strikes seems to answer yes or no to the uncon- 
scious questions of the stranger's voice within him. 
Soon he learns to produce the tones he desires to hear. 
At first the airs had sought him out, but now he can 
seek them out. His soul which, thirsting for music, has 
long been eagerly drinking in its strains, now flows forth 
creatively over the barriers into the world. 

This inborn daimon in the artist grows with the child, 
ripens with the man, and ages as the man grows old. 
Like a vampire it is nourished by all the experiences of 
its host, drinking his joy* and his sorrows, gradually 
sucking up all the life into itself, so that for the creative 


human being nothing more remains but the eternal thirst 
,and the torment of creation. In Rolland's sense the 
artist does not will to create, but must create. For him, 
production is not (as Nordau and Nordau's congeners 
fancy in their simplicity) a morbid outgrowth, an ab- 
normality of life, but the only true health; unproductiv- 
ity is disease. Never has the torment of the lack of in- 
spiration been more splendidly described than in Jean 
Christophe. The soul in such cases is like a parched 
land under a torrid sun, and its need is worse than 
death. No breath of wind brings coolness; everything 
withers; joy and energy fade; the will is utterly relaxed 
Suddenly comes a storm out of the swiftly overcast 
heavens, the thunder of the burgeoning power, the light 
ning of inspiration; the stream wells up from inexhausti 
ble springs, carrying the soul along with it in eternal de 
sire; the artist has become the whole world, has become 
God, the creator of all the elements. Whatever he en 
counters, he sweeps along with him in his rush ; "tout lui 
est pretexte a sa fecondite intarissable"; everything is 
material for his inexhaustible fertility. He transforms 
the whole of life into art ; like Jean Christophe he trans- 
1 forms his death into a symphony. 

In order to grasp life in its entirety, Rolland has en- 
deavored to describe the profoundest mystery of life; to 
describe creation, the origin of the all, the development 
of art in an artist. He has furnished a vivid descrip- 
tion of the tie between creation and life, which weak- 
lings are so eager to avoid. Jean Christophe is simul- 
taneously the working genius and the suffering man; he 


suffers through creation, and creates through suffering. / 
For the very reason that Rolland is himself a creator, 
the imaginary figure of Jean Christophe, the artist, is 
transcendently alive. 



ART has many forms, but its highest form is al- 
ways that which is most intimately akin to na- 
ture in its laws and its manifestations. True 
genius works eilementally, works naturally, is wide as 
the world and manifold as mankind. It creates out of 
its own abundance, not out of weakness. Its perennial 
effect, therefore, is to create more strength, to glorify 
nature, and to raise life above its temporal confines into 

Jean Christophe is inspired with such genius. His 
name is symbolical. Jean Christophe Krafft is himself 
energy (Kraft), the indefatigable energy that springs 
from peasant ancestry. It is the energy which is hurled 
into life like a projectile, the energy that forcibly over- 
comes every obstacle. Now, as long as we identify the 
concept of life with quiescent being, with inactive ex- 
istence, with things as they are, this force of nature must 
be ever at war with life. For Rolland, however, life is 
not the quiescent, but the struggle against quiescence; it 
is creation, poiesis, the eternal, upward and onward im- 
pulse against the inertia of "the perpetual as-you-were." 
Among artists, one who is a fighter, an innovator, must 



necessarily be such a genius. Around him stand other 
artists engaged in comparatively peaceful activities, the 
contemplators, the sage observers of that which is, the 
completers of the extant, the imperturbable organizers 
of accomplished facts. They, the heirs of the past, have 
repose; he, the precursor, has storm. It is his lot to 
transform life into a work of art; he cannot enjoy life as 
a work of art; first he must create life as he would have 
it, create its form, its tradition, its ideal, its truth, its 
god. Nothing for him is ready-made; he has eternally 
to begin. Life does not welcome him into a warm 
house, where he can forthwith make himself at home. 
For him, life is but plastic material for a new edifice, 
wherein those who come after will live. Such a man, 
therefore, knows nothing of repose. "Work unrest- 
ingly," says his god to him; "you must fight ceaselessly." 
Obedient to the injunction, from boyhood to the day of 
hfs death he follows this path, fighting without truce, the 
flaming sword of the will in his hand. Often he grows 
weary, wondering whether struggle must indeed be un- ( 
ending, asking himself with Job whether his days be not 
"like the days of an hireling." But soon, shaking off , 
lethargy, he recognizes that "we cannot be truly alive '; 
while we continue to ask why we live; we must live life 
for its own sake." He knows that labor is^ its own re- 
ward. In an hour of illumination he sums up his des- 
tiny in the splendid phrase: "I do not seek peace; I 
seek life." 

But struggle implies the use of force. Despite his 
natural kindliness of disposition, Jean Christophe is an 



apostle of force. We discern in him something barbaric 
and elemental, the power of a storm or of a torrent 
which, obeying not its own will but the unknown laws 
of nature, rushes down from the heights into the lower 
levels of life. His outward aspect is that of a fighter. 
He is tall and massive, almost uncouth, with large hands 
and brawny arms. He has the sanguine temperament, 
and is liable to outbursts of turbulent passion. His foot- 
fall is heavy; his gait is awkward, though he knows noth- 
ing of fatigue. These characteristics derive from the 
crude energy of his peasant forefathers on the maternal 
side; their pristine strength gives him steadfastness in 
the most arduous crises of existence. "Well is it with 
him who amid the mishaps of life is sustained by the 
power of a sturdy stock, so that the feet of father and 
grandfathers may carry forward the son when he grows 
weary, so that the vigorous growth of ^nore robust fore- 
bears may relift the crushed soul." The power of re- 
silence against the oppression of existence is given by 
such physical energy. Still more helpful is Jean Chris- 
tophe's trust in the future, his healthy and unyielding 
optimism, his invincible confidence in victory. "I have 
centuries to look forward to," he cries exultantly in an 
hour of disillusionment. "Hail to life! Hail to joy!" 
From the German race he inherits Siegfried's confidence 
in success, and for this reason he is ever a fighter. He 
knows, "le genie veut I'obstacle, I'obstacle fait le genie" 
— genius desires obstacles, for obstacles create genius. 

Force, however, is always wilful. Young Jean Chris- 
tophe, while his energies have not yet been spiritu- 


ally enlightened, have not yet been ethically tamed, can 
see no one but himself. He is unjust towards others, 
deaf and blind to remonstrance, indifferent as to whether 
his actions may please or displease. Like a woodcutter, 
ax in hand, he hastes stormfully through the forest, 
striking right and left, simply to secure light and space 
for himself. He despises German art without under- 
standing it, and scorns French art without knowing any- 
thing about it. He is endowed with "tlie marvelous 
impudence of opinionated youth"; that of the under- 
graduate who says, "the world did not exist till I cre- 
ated it." His strength has its fling in contentiousness; 
for only when struggling does he feel that he is himself, 
then only can he enjoy his passion for life. 

These struggles of Jean Christophe continue through- 
out the years, for his maladroitness is no less conspicu- 
ous than his strength. He does not understand his op- 
ponents. He is slow to learn the lessons of life; and it 
is precisely because the lessons are learned so slowly, 
piece by piece, each stage besprinkled with blood and 
watered with tears, that the novel is so impressive and 
so full of help. Nothing comes easily to him; no ripe 
fruit ever falls into his hands. He is simple like Parsi- 
fal, naive, somewhat boisterous and provincial. Instead 
of rubbing off his angularities upon the grindstones of 
social life, he bruises himself by his clumsy movements. 
He is an intuitive genius, not a psychologist; he fore- 
sees nothing, but must endure all things before he can 
know. "He had not the hawklike glance of Frenchmen 
and Jews, who discern the most trifling characteristics of 


all that they see. He silently absorbed everything he 
came in contact with, as a sponge absorbs. Not until 
days or hours had elapsed would* he become fully aware 
of what had now become a part of himself." Nothing 
was real to him so long as it remained objective. To be 
of use, every experience must be, as it were, digested and 
worked up into his blood. He could not exchange ideas 
and concepts one for another as people exchange bank 
notes. After prolonged nausea, he was able to free 
himself from all the conventional lies and trivial notions 
which had been instilled into him in youth, and was then 
at length enabled to absorb fresh nutriment. Before he 
could know France, he had to strip away all her masks 
one after another; before he could reach Grazia, "the 
well-beloved who never dies," he had to make his way 
through less lofty adventures. Before he could discover 
himself and before he could discover his god, he had to 
live the whole of his life through. Not until he reaches 
the other shore does Christophorus recognize that his 
burden has been a message. 

He knows that "it is good to suffer when one is strong," 
and he therefore loves to encounter hindrances. 
"Everything great is good, and the extremity of pain bor- 
ders on enfranchisement. The only thing that crushes 
irremediably, the only thing that destroys the soul, is 
mediocrity of pain and joy." He gradually learns to 
recognize his enemy, his own impetuosity; he learns to 
be just; he begins to understand himself and the world. 
The nature of passion becomes clear to him. He real- 
izes that the hostility he encounters is aimed, not at him 


personally, but at the eternal powers goading him on ; he 
learns to love his enemies because they have helped him 
to find himself, and because they march towards the same 
goal by other roads. The years of apprenticeship have 
come to an end. As Schiller admirably puts it in 
the above-quoted letter to Goetlie: "Years of appren- 
ticeship are a relative concept. They imply their cor- 
relative, which is mastery. The idea of mastery is pre- 
supposed to elucidate and ground the idea of apprentice- 
ship." Jean Christophe, in riper years, begins to see 
that through all his transformations he has by degrees be- 
come more truly himself. Preconceptions have been 
cast aside; he has been freed from beliefs and illusions, 
freed from the prejudices of race and nationality. He 
is free and yet pious, now that he grasps the meaning of 
the path he has to tread. In the frank and noisy opti- 
mism of youth, he had exclaimed, "What is life? A 
tragedy. Hurrah!" Now, "transfigure par la foi," this 
optimism has been transformed into a gentle, all-em- 
bracing wisdom. His freethinker's confessions runs: 
"To serve God and to love God, signifies to serve life and 
to love life." He hears the footsteps of coming genera- 
tions. Even in those who are hostile to him he salutes 
the undying spirit of life. He sees his fame growing like 
a great cathedral, and feels it be to something remote 
from himself. He who was an aimless stormer, is now 
a leader; but his own goal does not become clear to him 
until the sonorous waves of death encompass him, and he 
floats away into the vast ocean of music, into eternal 
peace. . ' 


What makes Jean Christophe's struggle supremely 
heroic is that he aspires solely towards the greatest, to- 
wards life as a whole. This striving man has to upbuild 
everything for himself; his art, his freedom, his faith, his 
God, his truth. He has to fight himself free from every- 
thing which others have taught him; from all the fellow- 
ships of art, nationality, race, and creed. His ardor 
never wrestles for any personal end, for success or for 
pleasure. "II n'y a aucun rapport entre la passion et 
le plaisir." Jean Christophe's loneliness makes this 
struggle tragical. It is not on his own behalf that he 
troubles to attain to truth, for he knows that every man 
has his own truth. When, nevertheless, he becomes a 
helper of mankind, this is not by words, but by his own 
essential nature, which exercises a marvelously harmon- 
izing influence in virtue of his vigorous goodness. Who- 
ever comes into contact with him — the imaginary person- 
alities in the book, and no less the real human beings who 
read the book — is the better for having known him. 
The power through which he conquers is that of the life 
which we all share. And inasmuch as we love him, we 
grow enabled to cherish an ardent love for the world 
of mankind. 



JEAN CHRISTOPHE is the portrait of an artist. 
But every form and every formula of art and the 
artist must necessarily be one-sided. RoUand, 
therefore, introduces to Christophe in mid career, "nel 
mezzo del cammin," a counterpart, a Frenchman as foil 
to the German, a hero of thought as contrast to the hero 
of action. Jean Christophe and Olivier are comple- 
mentary figures, attracting one another in virtue of the 
law of polarity. "They were very different each from 
the other, and they loved one another on account of this 
difference, being of the same species" — the noblest. 
Olivier is the essence of spiritual France, just as Jean 
Christophe is the offspring of the best energies of Ger- 
many; they are ideals, alike fashioned in the form of 
the highest ideal; alternating like major and minor, they 
transpose the theme of art and life into the most wonder- 
ful variations. 

In externals the contrast between them is marked, both 
in respect of physical characteristics and social origins. 
Olivier is slightly built, pale and delicate. Whereas 
Jean Christophe springs from working folk, Olivier de- 
rives from an old and somewhat effete bourgeois stock, 



and despite all his ardor he has an aristocratic aloofness 
from vulgar things. His vitality does not come like that 
of his robust comrade from excess of bodily energy, from 
muscles and blood, but from nerves and brain, from will 
and passion. He is receptive rather than productive. 
"He was ivy, a gentle soul which must always love and 
be loved." Art is for him a refuge from reality, whereas 
Jean Christophe flings himself upon art to find in it life 
many times multiplied. In Schiller's sense of the terms, 
Olivier is the sentimental artist, whilst his German 
brother is the naive genius. Olivier represents the 
beauty of a civilization; he is symbolic of "la vaste 
culture et le genie psychologique de la France"; Jean 
Christophe is the very luxuriance of nature. The 
Frenchman represents contemplation; the German, ac- 
tion. The former reflects by many facets; the latter has 
the genius which shines by its own light. Olivier "trans- 
fers to the sphere of thought all the energies that he has 
drawn from action," producing ideas where Christophe 
radiates vitality, and wishing to improve, not the world, 
but himself. It suffices him to fight out within himself 
the eternal struggle of responsibility. He contemplates 
unmoved the play of secular forces, looking on with the 
skeptical smile of his teacher Renan, as one who knows 
in advance that the perpetual return of evil is inevitable, 
that nothing can avert the eternal victory of injustice and 
wrong. His love, therefore, goes out to humanity, the 
abstract idea, and not to actual men, the unsatisfactory 
realizations of that idea. 

At first we incline to regard him as a weakling, as 


timid and inactive. Such is the view taken at the outset 
by his forceful friend, who says almost angrily: "Are 
you incapable of feeling hatred?" Olivier answers with 
a smile: "I hate hatred. It is repulsive to me that I 
should struggle with people whom I despise." He does 
not enter into treaties with reality; his strength lies in 
isolation. No defeat can daunt him, and no victory can 
persuade him: he knows that force rules the world, but 
he refuses to recognize the victor. Jean Christophe, 
fired by Teutonic pagan wrath, rushes at obstacles and 
stamps them underfoot; Olivier knows that next day the 
weeds that have been trodden to the earth will spring 
up again. He does not love struggle for its own sake. y 

When he avoids struggle, this is not because he fears de- 
feat, but because victory is indifferent to him. A free- 
thinker, he is in truth animated by the spirit of Chris- 
tianity. "I should run the risk of disturbing my soul's 
peace, which is more precious to me than any victory. I 
refuse to hate. I desire to be just even to my enemies. 
Amid the storms of passion I wish to retain clarity of 
vision, that I may understand everything and love every- 

Jean Christophe soon comes to recognize that Olivier 
is his spiritual brother, learning that the heroism of 
thought is just as great as the heroism of action, that his 
friend's idealistic anarchism is no less courageous than 
his own primitive revolt. In this apparent weakling, he 
venerates a soul of steel. Nothing can shake Olivier, 
nothing can confuse his serene intelligence. Superior 
force is no argument against him. "He had an inde- 


pendence of judgment which nothing could overcome. 
When he loved anything, he loved it in defiance of the 
world." Justice is the only pole towards which the 
needle of his will points unerringly; justice is his sole 
form of fanaticism. Like Aert, his weaker prototype, 
he has "la faim de justice." Every injustice, even the 
injustices of a remote past, seem to him a disturbance 
of the world order. He belongs, therefore, to no party; 
he is unfailingly the advocate on behalf of all the un- 
happy and all the oppressed ; his place is ever "with the 
vanquished"; he does not wish to help the masses 
socially, but to help individual souls, whereas Jean 
Christophe desires to conquer for all mankind every 
paradise of art and freedom. For Olivier there is but 
one true freedom, that which comes from within, the 
freedom which a man must win for himself. The illu- 
sion of the crowd, its eternal class struggles and national 
struggles for power, distress him, but do not arouse his 
sympathy. Standing quite alone, he maintains his men- 
tal poise when war between Germany and France is immi- 
nent, when all are shaken in their convictions, and when 
even Jean Christophe feels that he must return home to 
fight for his fatherland. "I love my country," says the 
Frenchman to his German brother. "I love it just as 
you love yours. But am I for this reason to betray my 
conscience, to kill my soul? This would signify the be- 
trayal of my country. I belong to the army of the 
spirit, not to the army of force." But brute force takes 
its revenge upon the man who despises force, and he is 
killed in a chance medley. Only his ideals, which were 


his true life, survive him, to renew for those of a later 
generation the mystic idealism of his faith. 

Marvelously delineated is the answer made by the 
advocate of mental force to the advocate of physical 
force, by the genius of the spirit to the genius of action. 
The two heroes are profoundly united in their love for 
art, in their passion for freedom, in their need for spirit- 
ual purity. Each is "pious and free" in his own sense; 
they are brothers in that ultimate domain which Holland 
finely terms "the music of the soul" — in goodness. But 
Jean Christophe's goodness is that of instinct; it is ele- 
mental, therefore, and liable to be interrupted by pas- 
sionate relapses into hate. Olivier's goodness, on the 
other hand, is intellectual and wise, and is tinged merely 
at times by ironical skepticism. But it is this contrast 
between them, it is the fact that their aspirations towards 
goodness are complementary, which draws them together. 
Christophe's robust faith revives joy in life for the lonely 
Olivier. Christophe, in turn, learns justice from 
Olivier. The sage is uplifted by the strong, who is him- 
self enlightened by the sage's clarity. This mutual ex- 
change of benefits symbolizes the relationship between 
their nations. The friendship between the two indi- 
viduals is designed to be the prototype of a spiritual alli- 
ance between the brother peoples. France and Germany 
are "the two pinions of the west." The European spirit 
is to soar freely above the blood-drenched fields of the 



/ T EAN CHRISTOPHE is creative action; Olivier is 


j I creative thought; a third form is requisite to com- 
plete the cycle of existence, that of Grazia, cre- 
ative being, who secures fulfillment merely through her 
beauty and refulgence. In her case likewise the name 
is symbolic. Jean Christophe Krafft, the embodiment 
of virile energy, reencounters, comparatively late in life, 
Grazia, who now embodies the calm beauty of woman- 
hood. Thus his impetuous spirit is helped to realize the 
final harmony. 

Hitherto, in his long march towards peace, Jean Chris- 
tophe has encountered only fellow-soldiers and enemies. 
In Grazia he comes for the first time into contact with a 
human being who is free from nervous tension, with one 
characterized by that serene concord which in his music 

v^he has unconsciously been seeking for many years. 
Grazia is not a flaming personality from whom he him- 
self catches fire. The warmth of her senses has long ere 
this been cooled, through a certain weariness of life, a 
gentle inertia. But in her, too, sounds that "music of 
the soul"; she too is inspired with that goodness which 
is needed to attract Jean Christophe's liking. She does 



not incite him to further action. Already, owing to the 
many stresses of his life, the hair on his temples has been 
whitened. She leads him to repose, shows him "the 
smile of the Italian skies," where his unrest, tending as 
ever to recur, vanishes at length like a cloud in the eve- 
ning air. The untamed amativeness which in the past 
has convulsed his whole being, the need for love which 
has flamed up with elemental force in Le buisson ardent, 
threatening to destroy his very existence, is clarified here 
to become the "suprasensual marriage" with Grazia, 
"the well-beloved who never dies." Through Olivier, 
Jean Christophe is made lucid; through Grazia, he is 
made gentle. Olivier reconciled him with the world; 
Grazia, with himself. Olivier had been Virgil, guiding 
him through purgatorial fires; Grazia is Beatrice, point- 
ing towards the heaven of the great harmony. Never 
was there a nobler symbolization of the European triad ; 
the restrained fierceness of Germany; the clarity of 
France; the gentle beauty of the Italian spirit. Jean 
Christophe's life melody is resolved in this triad ; he has 
now been granted the citizenship of the world, is at home 
in all feelings, lands, and tongues, and can face death in 
the ultimate unity of life. 

Grazia, "la linda" (the limpid), is one of the most 
tranquil figures in the book. We seem barely aware of 
her passage through the agitated worlds, but her soft 
Mona Lisa smile streams like a beam of light athwart the 
animated space. Had she been absent, there would have 
been lacking to the work and to the man the magic of 
"the eternal feminine," the solution of the ultimate rid- 


die. When she vanishes, her radiance still lingers, fill- 
ing this book of exuberance and struggle with a soft 
lyrical melancholy, and transfusing it with a new beauty, 
that of peace. 



NOTWITHSTANDING the intimate relationships 
described in the previous chapters, the path of 
Jean Christophe the artist is a lonely one. He 
walks by himself, pursuing an isolated course that leads 
deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of his own being. 
The blood of his fathers drives him along, out of an infi- 
nite of confused origins, towards that other infinite of 
creation. Those whom he encounters in his life's jour- 
ney are no more than shadows and intimations, mile- 
stones of experience, steps of ascent and descent, epi- 
sodes and adventures. But what is knowledge other than 
a sum of experiences; what is life beyond a sum of en- 
counters? Other human beings are not Jean Chris- 
tophe's ,destiny, but they are material for his creative 
work. They are elements of the infinite, to which he 
feels himself akin. Since he wishes to live life as a 
whole, he must accept the bitterest part of life, mankind. 
All he meets are a help to him. His friends help him 
much; but his enemies help him still more, increasing his 
vitality and stimulating his energy. Thus even those 
who wish to hinder his work, further it ; and what is the 
true artist other than the work upon which he is engaged? 



In the great symphony of his passion, his fellow beings 
are high and low voices inextricably interwoven into 
the swelling rhythm. Many an individual theme he dis- 
misses after a while with indifference, but many another 
he pursues to the end. Into his childhood's days comes 
Gottfried, the kindly old man, deriving more or less from 
the spirit of Tolstoi. He appears quite incidentally, 
never for more than a night, shouldering his pack, the 
undying Ahasuerus, but cheerful and kindly, never 
mutinous, never complaining, bowed but splendidly un- 
flinching, as he wends his way Godward. Only in pass- 
ing does he touch Christophe's life, but this transient con- 
tact suffices to set the creative spirit in movement. Con- 
sider, again, Hassler, the composer. His face flashes 
upon Jean Christophe, a lightning glimpse, at the be- 
ginning of the young man's work; but, in this instant, 
Jean Christophe recognizes the danger that he may come 
to resemble Hassler through indolence, and he collects 
his forces. Intimations, appeals, signs — such are other 
men to him. Every one acts as a stimulus, some through 
love, some through hatred. Old Schulz, with sympa- 
thetic understanding, helps him in a moment of despair. 
The family pride of Frau von Kerich and the stupidity of 
the Gothamites drive him anew to despair, which cul- 
minates this time in flight, and thus proves his salvation. 
Poison and antidote have a terrible resemblance. But 
to his creative spirit nothing is unmeaning, for he stamps 
his own significance upon all, sweeping into the current 
of his life the very things which were imposing them- 
§elves as hindrances to the stream. Suff'ering is need- 


ful to him for the knowledge it brings. He draws liis 
best forces out of sadness, out of the shocks of life. 
Designedly does Holland make Jean Christophe conceive 
the most beautiful of his imaginative works during the 
times of his profoundest spiritual distresses, during the 
days after the death of Olivier, and during those which 
followed the departure of Grazia. Opposition and afflic- 
tion, the foes of the ordinary man, are friends to the 
artist, just as much as is every experience in his career. 
Precisely for his profoundest creative solitude, he re- 
quires the influences which emanate from his fellows. 

It is true that he takes long to learn this lesson, judg- 
ing men falsely at first because he sees them tempera- 
mently, not knowledgeably. To begin with, Jean Chris- 
tophe colors all human beings with his own overflowing 
enthusiasm, fancying them to be as upright and good- 
natured as he is himself, to speak no less frankly and 
spontaneously than he himself speaks. Then, after the 
first disillusionments, his views are falsified in the oppo- 
site direction by bitterness and mistrust. But gradu- 
ally he learns to hold just measure between overvalua- 
tion and its opposite. Helped towards justice by Olivier, 
guided to gentleness by Grazia, gathering experience 
from life, he comes to understand, not himself alone, 
but his foes likewise. Almost at the end of the book we 
find a little scene which may seem at first sight insignifi- 
cant. Jean Christophe comes across his sometime 
enemy, Levy-Coeur, and spontaneously offers his hand. 
This reconciliation implies something more than tran- 
sient sympathy. It expresses the meaning of the long 


pilgrimage. It leads us to his last confession, which 
runs as follows, with a slight alteration from his old 
description of true heroism: "To know men, and yet to 
love them." 



YOUNG Headstrong, looking upon his fellow men 
with passion and prejudice, fails to understand 
their natures; at first he contemplates the 
families of mankind, the nations, with like passion and 
prejudice. It is a part of our ine^table destiny that to 
begin with, and for many of us throughout life, we know 
our own land from within only, foreign lands only from 
without. Not until we have learned to see our own coun- 
try from without, and to understand foreign countries 
from within as the natives of these countries understand 
them, can we acquire a European outlook, can we realize 
that these various countries are complementary parts of 
a single whole. Jean Christophe fights for life in its 
entirety. For this reason he must pursue the path by 
which the nationalist becomes a citizen of the world and 
acquires a "European soul." 

As must happen, Jean Christophe begins with preju- 
dice. At first he overvalues France. Ideas have been 
impressed upon his mind concerning the artistic, cheer- 
ful, liberal-spirited French, and he regards his own Ger- 
many as a land full of restriction. His first sight of 

Paris brings disillusionment; he can see nothing but lies, 



clamor, and cheating. By degrees, however, he dis- 
covers that the soul of a nation is not an obvious and 
superficial thing, like a paving-stone in the street, but 
that the observer of a foreign people must dig his way 
to that soul through a thick stratum of illusion and false- 
hood. Ere long he weans himself of the habit which 
leads people to talk of the French, the Italians, the Jews, 
the Germans, as if members of these respective nations 
or races were all of a piece, to be classified and docketed 
in so simple a fashion. Each people has its own meas- 
ure, its own form, customs, failings, and lies; just as 
each has its own climate, history, skies, and race; and 
these things cannot be easily summarized in a phrase 
or two. As with all experience, our experiences of a 
country must be built up from within. With words 
alone we can build nothing but a house of cards. 
"Truth is the same to all nations, but each nation has its 
own lies which it speaks of as its idealism. Every mem- 
ber of each nation inhales the appropriate atmosphere 
of lying idealism from the cradle to the grave, until it 
becomes the very breath of his life. None but isolated 
geniuses can free themselves by heroic struggle, during 
which they stand alone in the free universe of their own 
thought." We must free ourselves from prejudice if we 
are to judge freely. There is no other formula; there 
are no other psychological prescriptions. As with all 
creative work, we must permeate the material with which 
we have to deal, must yield ourselves without reserve. 
In the case of nations as in the case of individual men, 
he who would know them will find that there is 


but one science, that of the heart and not of books. 
Nothing but such mutual understanding passing from 
soul to soul can weld the nations together. What keeps 
them asunder is misunderstanding, the way those of each 
nation hold their own beliefs to be the only right ones, 
look upon their own natures as the only good ones. The 
mischief lies in the arrogance of persons who believe 
that all others are wrong. Nation is estranged from na^ 
tion by the collective conceit of the members of each 
nation, by ihe "great European plague of national 
pride" which Nietzsche termed "the malady of the cen- 
tury." They stand like trees in a forest, each stem prid- 
ing itself on its isolation, though the roots interlace 
underground and the summits touch overhead. The 
common people, the proletariat, living in the depths, 
universally human in its feelings, know naught of na- 
tional contrasts. Jean Christophe, making the acquaint- 
ance of Sidonie, the Breton maidservant, recognizes 
with astonishment "how closely she resembles respect- 
able folk in Germany." Look again at the summits, 
at the elite. Olivier and Grazia have long been living 
in that lofty sphere known to Goethe "in which we feel 
the fate of foreign nations just as we feel our own." 
Fellowship is a truth; mutual hatred is a falsehood; 
justice is the only real tie linking men and linking na- 
tions. "All of us, all nations, are debtors one to an- 
other. Let us, then, pay our debts and do our duty 
together." Jean Christophe has suffered at the hands of 
every nation, and has received gifts from every nation; 
disillusioned by all, he has also been benej&ted by all. 


To the citizen of the world, at the end of his pilgrim- 
age, all nations are alike. In each his soul can make 
itself at home. The musician in him dreams of a sub- 
lime work, of the great European symphony, wherein 
the voices of the peoples, resolving discords, will rise 
in the last and highest harmony, the harmony of man- 



THE picture of France in the great romance is 
notable because we are here shown a country 
from a twofold outlook, from without and from 
within, from the perspective of a German and with the 
eyes of a Frenchman. It is likewise notable because 
Christophe's judgment is not merely that of one who 
sees, but that of one who learns in seeing. 

In every respect, the German's thought process is in- 
tentionally presented in a typical form. In his little 
native town he had never known a Frenchman. His 
feelings towards the French, of whom he had no con- 
crete experience whatever, took the form of a genial, but 
somewhat contemptuous, sympathy. "The French are 
good fellows, but rather a slack lot," would seem to sum 
up his German prejudice. They are a nation of spine- 
less artists, bad soldiers, corrupt politicians, women of 
easy virtue; but they are clever, amusing, and liberal- 
minded. Amid the order and sobriety of German life, 
he feels a certain yearning towards the democratic free- 
dom of France. His first encounter with a French ac- 
tress, Corinne, akin to Goethe's Philine, seems to con- 
j&rm this facile judgment; but soon, when he meets 



Antoinette, he comes to realize the existence of another 
France. "You are so serious," he says with astonish- 
ment to the demure, tongue-tied girl, who in this foreign 
land is hard at work as a teacher in a pretentious, parvenu 
household. Her characteristics are not in keeping with 
his traditional prejudices. A Frenchwoman ought to 
be trivial, saucy, and wanton. For the first time France 
presents to him "the riddle of its twofold nature." This 
initial appeal from the distance exercises a mysterious 
lure. He begins to realize the infinite multiplicity of 
these foreign worlds. Like Gluck, Wagner, Meyerbeer, 
and Offenbach, he takes refuge from the narrowness of 
German provincial life, and flees to Paris, the fabled 
home of universal art. 

His feeling on arrival is one of disorder, and this im- 
pression never leaves him. The first and last impres- 
sion, the strongest impression, to which the German in 
him continually returns, is that powerful energies are 
being squandered through lack of discipline. His first 
guide in the fair is one of those spurious "real Pari- 
sians," one of the immigrants who are more Parisian 
in their manners than those who are Parisian by birth, a 
Jew of German extraction named Sylvain Kohn, who 
here passes by the name of Hamilton, and in whose hands 
all the threads of the trade in art are centered. He 
shows Jean Christophe the painters, the musicians, the 
politicians, the journalists; and Jean Christophe turns 
away disheartened. It seems to him that all their works 
exhale an unpleasant "odor femininus," an oppressive 
atmosphere laden with scent. He sees praises showered 


upon second-rate persons, hears a clamor of apprecia- 
tion, without discovering a single genuine work of art. ^d 
There is indeed art of a kind amid the medley, but it is 
over-refined and decadent; the work of taste and not of 
power; lacking integration through excess of irony; an 
Alexandrian-Greek literature and music; the breath of a 
moribund nation; the hothouse blossom of a perishing 
civilization. He sees an end, but no beginning. The 
German in him already hears "the rumbling of the can- 
non" which will destroy this enfeebled Greece. 

He learns to know good men and bad; many of them 
are vain and stupid, dull and soulless; not one does he 
meet, in his experience of social life in Paris, who gives 
him confidence in France. The first messenger comes 
from a distance; this is Sidonie, the peasant girl who 
tends him during his illness. He learns, all at once, 
how calm and inviolable, how fertile and strong, is the 
earth, the humus, out of which the Parisian exotics suck 
their energies. He becomes acquainted with the people, 
the robust and serious-minded French people, which tills 
the land, caring naught for the noise of the great fair, 
the people which has made revolutions with the might 
of its wrath and has waged the Napoleonic wars with its 
enthusiasm. From this moment he feels there must be 
a real France still unknown to him. In conversation 
with Sylvain Kohn, he asks, "Where can I find France?" 
Kohn answers grandiloquently, "We are France!" Jean 
Christophe smiles bitterly, knowing well that he will 
have a long search. Those among whom he is now mov- 
ing have hidden France. 


At length comes the rencounter which is a turning- 
point in his fate; he meets Olivier, Antoinette's brother, 
the true Frenchman. Just as Dante, guided by Virgil, 
wanders through new and ever new circles of knowledge, 
so Jean Christophe, led by Olivier, learns with astonish- 
ment that behind this veil of noise, behind this clamorous 
fagade, an elite is quietly laboring. He sees the work of 
persons whose names are never printed in the newspa- 
pers; sees the people, those who, remote from the hurly- 
burly, tranquilly pursue their daily round. He learns 
to know the new idealism of the France whose soul has 
been strengthened by defeat. At first this discovery fills 
him with rage. "I cannot understand you all," he cries 
to the gentle Olivier. "You live in the most beautiful 
of countries, are marvelously gifted, are endowed with 
the highest human sensibilities, and yet you fail to turn 
these advantages to account. You allow yourselves to 
be dominated and to be trampled upon by a handful of 
rascals. Rouse yourselves; get together; sweep your 
house clean!" The first and most natural thought of 
the German is for organization, for the drawing together 
of the good elements; the first thought of the strong 
man is to fight. Yet the best in France insist on holding 
aloof, some of them content with a mysterious clarity of 
vision, and others giving themselves up to a facile resig- 
nation. With that tincture of pessimism in their sagacity 
to which Renan has given such lucid expression, they 
shrink from the struggle. Action is uncongenial to 
them, and the hardest thing of all is to combine them 
for joint action. "They are over cautious, and visualize 


defeat before the battle begins." Lacking the optimism 
of the Germans, they remain isolated individuals, some 
from prudence, others from pride. They seem to be 
affected with a spirit of exclusiveness, the operation of 
which Jean Christophe is able to study in his own dwell- 
ing. On each story there live excellent persons who 
could combine well, but they will have nothing to do 
with one another. For twenty years they pass on the 
staircase without becoming acquainted, without the least 
concern about one another's lives. Thus the best among 
the artists remain strangers. 

Jean Christophe suddenly comes to realize with all its 
merits and defects the essential characteristic of the 
French people, the desire for liberty. Each one wishes 
to be free for himself, free from ties. They waste enor- 
mous quantities of energy because each tries to wage 
the time struggle unaided, because they will not permit 
themselves to be organized, because they refuse to pull 
together in harness. Although their activities are thus 
paralyzed by their reason, their minds nevertheless re- 
main free. Consequently they are enabled to permeate 
every revolutionary movement with the religious fervor 
of the solitary, and they can perpetually renew their own 
revolutionary faith. These things are their salvation, 
preserving them from an order which would be unduly 
rigid, from a mechanical system which would impose 
excessive uniformity. Jean Christophe at length un- 
derstands that the noisy fair exists only to attract the un- 
thinking, and to preserve a creative solitude for the really 
active spirits. He sees that for the French temperament 


this clamor is indispensable, is a means by which the 
French fire one another to labor; he sees that the appar- 
ent inconsequence of their thoughts is a rhythmical form 
of continuous renewal. His first impression, like that 
of so many Germans, had been that the French are effete. 
But after twenty years he realizes that in truth they are 
always ready for new beginnings, that amid the appar- 
ent contradictions of their spirit a hidden order reigns, 
a different order from that known to the Germans, just 
as their freedom is a different freedom. The citizen 
of the world, who no longer desires to impose upon any 
other nation the characteristics of his own, now con- 
templates with delight the eternal diversity of the races. 
As the light of the world is composed of the seven colors 
of the spectrum, so from this racial diversity arises that 
wonderful multiplicity in unity, the fellowship of all 



IN this romance, Germany likewise is viewed in a 
twofold aspect; but whereas France is seen first 
from without, with the eyes of a German, and then 
from within, with the eyes of a Frenchman, Germany is 
first viewed from within and then regarded from abroad. 
Moreover, just a's happened in the case of France, two 
worlds are imperceptibly superimposed one upon the 
other; a clamant civilization and a silent one, a false 
culture and a true. We see respectively the old Ger- 
many, which sought its heroism in the things of the 
spirit, discovered its profundity in truth; and the new 
Germany, intoxicated with its own strength, grasping at 
the powers of the reason which as a philosophical disci- 
pline had transformed the world, and perverting them 
to the uses of business eflRciency. It is not suggested 
that German idealism had become extinct; that there no 
longer existed the belief in a purer and more beautiful 
world freed from the compromises of our earthly lot. 
The trouble rather was that this idealism had been too 
widely diffused, had been generalized until it had grown 
thin and superficial. The German faith in God, turning 

practical, and now directed towards mundane ends, had 



been transformed into grandiose ideas of the national 
future. In art, it had been sentimentalized. In its new 
manifestations, it was signally displayed in the cheap 
optimism of Emperor William. The defeat which had 
spiritualized French idealism, had, from the German 
side, as a victory, materialized German idealism. 
"What has victorious Germany given to the world?" 
asks Jean Christophe. He answers his own question by 
saying: "The flashing of bayonets; vigor without mag- 
nanimity; brutal realism; force conjoined with greed for 
profit; Mars as commercial traveler." He is grieved 
to recognize that Germany has been harmed by victory. 
He suffers; for "one expects more of one's own coun- 
try than of another, and is hurt more by the faults of 
one's own land." Ever the revolutionist, Christophe de- 
tests noisy self-assertion, militarist arrogance, the chur- 
lishness of caste feeling. In his conflict with militarized 
Germany, in his quarrel with the sergeant at the dance 
in the Alsatian village inn, we have an elemental erup- 
tion of the hatred for discipline felt by the artist, the 
lover of freedom ; we have his protest against the brutal- 
ization of thought. He is compelled to shake the dust of 
Germany off" his feet. 

When he reaches France, however, he begins to realize 
Germany's greatness. "In a foreign environment his 
judgment was freed" ; this statement applies to him as to 
all of us. Amid the disorder of France he learned to 
value the active orderliness of Germany; the skeptical 
resignation of the French made him esteem the vigorous 
optimism of the Germans; he was impressed by the con- 


trast between a witty nation and a thoughtful one. Yet 
he was under no illusions afboul the optimism of the new 
Germany, perceiving that it is often spurious. He be- 
came aware that the idealism often took the form of 
idealizing a dictatorial will. Even in the great masters, 
he saw, to quote Goethe's wonderful phrase, "how read- 
ily in the Germans the ideal waxes sentimental." His 
passionate sincerity, grown pitiless in the atmosphere of 
French clarity, revolts against this hazy idealism, which 
compromises between truth and desire, which justifies 
abuses of power with the plea of civilization, and which 
considers that might is sufficient warrant for victory. 
In France he becomes aware of the faults of France, in 
Germany he realizes the faults of Germany, loving both 
countries because they are so different. Each suffers 
from the defective distribution of its merits. In France, 
liberty is too widely diffused and engenders chaos, 
while a few individuals comprising the elite keep their 
idealism intact. In Germany, idealism, permeating the 
masses, has been sugared into sentimentalism and wa- 
tered into a mercantile optimism; and here a still smaller 
elite preserves complete freedom aloof from the crowd. 
Each suffers from an excessive development of national 
peculiarities. Nationalism, as Nietzsche says, "has in 
France corrupted character, and in Germany has cor- 
rupted spirit and taste." Could but the two peoples 
draw together and impress their best qualities upon one 
another, they would rejoice to find, as Christophe him- 
self had found, that "the richer he was in German 
dreams, the more precious to him became the clarity 


of the Latin mind." Olivier and Christophe, forming a 
pact of friendship, hope for the day when their personal 
sentiments will be perpetuated in an alliance between 
their respective peoples. In a sad hour of international 
dissension, the Frenchman calls to the German in words 
still unfulfilled: "We hold out our hands to you. De- 
spite lies and hatred, we cannot be kept apart. We 
have mutual need of one another, for the greatness of 
our spirit and of our race. We are the two pinions of 
the west. Should one be broken, the other is useless for 
flight. Even if war should come, this will not unclasp 
our hands, nor will it prevent us from soaring upwards 



JEAN CHRISTOPHE is growing old and weary 
when he comes to know the third country that will 
form part of the future European synthesis. He 
had never felt drawn towards Italy. As had happened 
many years earlier in -the case of France, so likewise 
in the case of Italy, his sympathies had been chilled by 
his acceptance of the disastrous and prejudiced formulas 
by which the nations impose barriers between themselves 
while each extols its own peculiarities as peculiarly right 
and phenomenally strong. Yet hardly has he been an 
hour in Italy when these prejudices are shaken off and 
are replaced by enthusiastic admiration. He is fired by 
the unfamiliar light of the Italian landscape. He be- 
comes aware of a new rhythm of life. He does not see 
fierce energy, as in Germany, or nervous mobility as in 
France; but the sweetness of these "centuries of ancient 
culture and civilization" makes a strong appeal to the 
northern barbarian. Hitherto his gaze has always been 
turned towards the future, but now he becomes aware 
of the charms of the past. Whereas the Germans are 
still in search of the best form of self-expression; and 
whereas the French refresh and renew themselves through 



incessant change; here he finds a nation with a clear se- 
quence of tradition, a nation which need merely be true 
to its own past and to its own landscape, in order to fulfill 
the most perfect blossoming of its nature, in order to 
realize beauty. 

It is true that Christophe misses the element which 
to him is the breath of life; he misses struggle. A gen- 
tle drowsiness seems universally prevalent, a pleasant 
fatigue which is debilitating and dangerous. "Rome is 
too full of tombs, and the city exhales death." The fire 
kindled by Mazzini and Garibaldi, the flame in which 
United Italy was forged, still glows in isolated Italian 
souls. Here, too, there is idealism. But it differs from 
the German and from the French idealism; it is not yet 
directed towards the citizenship of the world, but re- 
mains purely national; "Italian idealism is concerned 
solely with itself, with Italian desires, with the Italian 
race, with Italian renown." In the calm southern atmos- 
phere, this flame does not burn so fiercely as to radiate 
a light through Europe; but it burns brightly and beau- 
tifully in these young souls, which are apt for all pas- 
sions, though the moment has not yet come for the intens- 
est ardors. 

But as soon as Jean Christophe begins to love Italy, 
he grows afraid of this love. He realizes that Italy is 
also essential to him, in order that in his music and 
in his life the impetuosity of the senses shall be clari- 
fied to a perfect harmony. He understands how neces- 
sary the southern world is to the northern, and is now 
aware that only in the trio of Germany, France, and 


Italy does the full meaning of each voice become clear. 
In Italy, there is less illusion and more reality; but 
the land is too beautiful, tempting to enjoyment and kill- 
ing tlie impulse towards action. Just as Germany finds 
a danger in her own idealism, because that idealism is \ 
too widely disseminated and becomes spurious in the av- 
erage man; just as to France her liberty proves disas- 
trous because it encourages in the individual an idea of 
/absolute independence which estranges him from the 
community; so for Italy is her beauty a danger, since it 
makes her indolent, pliable, and self-satisfied. To every 
nation, as to every individual, the most personal of char- 
acteristics, the very things that commend the nation or 
the individual to others, are dangerous. It would seem, 
therefore, that nations and individuals must seek salva- 
tion by combining as far as possible with their own op- 
posites. Thus will they draw nearer to the highest ideal, 
that of European unity, that of universal humanity. In 
Italy, as aforetime in France and in Germany, Jean 
Christophe redreams the dream which Holland at two- 
and-twenty had first dreamed on the Janiculum. He 
foresees the European symphony, which hitherto poets 
alone have created in works transcending nationality, but 
which the nations as yet have failed to realize for them- 



IN the three diversified nations, by each of which 
Christophe is now attracted, now repelled, he finds 
a unifying element, adapted to each nation, but not 
completely merged therein — the Jews. "Do you no- 
tice," he says on one occasion to Olivier, "that we are 
always running up against Jews? It might be thought 
that we draw them as by a spell, for we continually find 
them in our path, sometimes as enemies and sometimes 
as allies." It is true that he encounters Jews wherever 
he goes. In his native town, the first people to give him 
a helping hand (for their own ends, of course) were the 
wealthy Jews who ran "Dionysos"; in Paris, Sylvain 
Kohn had been his mentor, Levy-Coeur his bitterest foe, 
Weil and Mooch his most helpful friends. In like man- 
ner, Olivier and Antoinette frequently hold converse 
with Jews, either on terms of friendship or on terms of 
enmity. At every cross-roads to which the artist comes, 
they stand like signposts pointing the way, now towards 
good and now towards evil. 

Christophe's first feeling is one of hostility. Al- 
though he is too open-minded to entertain a sentiment 
of hatred for Jews, he has imbibed from his pious 



mother a certain aversion ; and sharp-sighted though they 
are, he questions their capacity for the real understand- 
ing of his work. But again and again it becomes ap- 
parent to him that they are the only persons really con- .,v*-^*^ ' ^ 
cerned about his work at all, the only ones who value \ c-r^''^ ^J^''' 
innovation for its own sake. ^ 

Olivier, the clearer-minded of the two, is able to ex- 
plain matters to Christophe, showing that the Jews, cut ^ 
off from tradition, are unconsciously the pioneers of oj/V^ a j 
every innovation which attacks tradition; these people ' ^ 
v/ithout a country are the best assistants in the campaign 
against nationalism. "In France, the Jews are almost 
the only persons with whom a free man can discuss 
something novel, something that is really alive. The ' 
others take their stand upon the past, are firmly rooted "^ 
in dead things. Of enormous importance is it that this i 
traditional past does not exist for the Jews; or that in so 
far as it exists, it is a different past from ours. The 
result is that we can talk to Jews about to-day, whereas 
with those of our own race we can speak only of yes- 
terday ... I do not wish to imply that I invariably find 
their doings agreeable. Often enough, I consider these 
doings actually repulsive. But at least they live, and 
Qcnow how to value what is alive , ... In modern Eu- 
rope, the Jews are the principal agents alike of good 
and of evil. Unwittingly they favor the germination of 
the seed of thought. Is it not among Jews that you 
have found your worst enemies and your best friends?" 

Christophe agrees, saying: "It is perfectly true that 
they have encouraged me and helped me; that they have 


uttered words which invigorated me for the struggle, 
showing me that I was understood. Nevertheless, these 
friends are my friends no longer; their friendship was 
but a fire of straw. No matter! A passing sheen is 
welcome in the night. You are right, we must not be 

He finds a place for them, these folk without a coun- 
try, in his picture of the fatherlands. He does not fail 
to see the faults of the Jews. He realizes that for Eu- 
ropean civilization they do not form a productive ele- 
ment in the highest sense of the term; he perceives that 
in essence their work tends to promote analysis and 
decomposition. But this work of decomposition seems 
to him important, for the Jews undermine tradition, the 
hereditary foe of all that is new. Their freedom from 
the ties of country is the gadfly which plagues the "mangy 
beast of nationalism" until it loses its intellectual bear- 
ings. The decomposition they effect helps us to rid 
ourselves of the dead past, of the "eternal yesterday"; 
detachment from national ties favors the growth of a 
new spirit which it is itself incompetent to produce. 
These Jews without a country are the best assistants of 
the "good Europeans" of the future. In many respects 

'' Christophe is repelled by them. As a man cherishing 
faith in life, he dislikes their skepticism; to his cheerful 
disposition, their irony is uncongenial; himself striving 
towards invisible goals, he detests their materialism, their 

^ canon that success must be tangible. Even the clever 
Judith Mannheim, with her "passion for intelligence," 
understands only his work, and not the faith upon which 


that work is based. Nevertheless, the strong will of the 
Jews appeals to his own strength, their vitality to his 
vigorous life. He sees in them "the ferment of action, 
the yeast of life." A homeless man, he finds himself 
most intimately and most quickly understood by these 
"sanspatries." Furthermore, as a free citizen of the 
world, he is competent to understand on his side the 
tragedy of their lives, cut adrift from everything, even 
from themselves. He recognizes that they are useful as 
means to an end, although not themselves an end. He 
sees that, like all nations and races, the Jews must 
be harnessed to their contrast. "These neurotic beings 
. . . must be subjected to a law that will give them sta- 
bility. . . . Jews are like women, splendid when rid- 
den on the curb, though it would be intolerable to be 
ruled either by Jews or by women." Just as little as 
the French spirit or the German spirit, is the Jewish 
spirit adapted for universal application. But Chris- 
tophe does not wish the Jews to be different from what 
they are. Every race is necessary, for its peculiar char- 
acteristics are requisite for the enrichment of multi- 
plicity, and for the consequent enlargement of life. 
Jean Christophe, now in his later years making peace 
with the world, finds that everything has its appointed 
place in the whole scheme. Each strong tone contributes 
to the great harmony. What may arouse hostility in 
isolation, serves to bind the whole together. Nay more, 
it is necessary to pull down the old buildings and to 
clear the ground before we can begin to build anew; the 
analytic spirit is the precondition of the synthetic. In 


all countries Christophe acclaims the folk without a 
country as helpers towards the foundation of the uni- 
versal fatherland. He accepts them all into his dream 
of the New Europe, whose still distant rhythm stirs his 
responsive yearnings. 




THUS the entire human herd is fanned within ring 
after ring of hurdles, which he life-force must 
break down if it would wipto freedom. We 
have the hurdle of the fatherland, Viich shuts us away 
from other nations; the hurdle of ,\nguage, which im- 
poses its constraint upon our thought; the hurdle of 
religion, which makes us unable/to understand alien 
creeds; the hurdle of our own naUres, barring the way 
to reality by prejudice and false Laming. Terrible are 
the resulting isolations. The peoples fail to under- 
stand one another; the races, th^ creeds, individual hu- 
man beings, fail to understand one another; they are 
segregated; each group or ea^h individual has expe- 
rience of no more than a part of life, a part of truth, a 
part of reality, each mistakirg his part for the whole. 

Even the free man, "f reec from the illusion of father- 
land, creed, and race," e^en he, who seems to have es- 
caped from all the pens, is still enclosed within an ulti- 
mate ring of hurdles. He is confined within the limits' 
of his own generation, for generations are the steps of : 
the stairway by which humanity ascends. Every genera-/ 
tion builds on the achievements of thosq that have gone 



^ - f before ; herehere is no possibility of retracing our f oot- 
k^ I steps; each ^neration has its own laws, its own form, 
^^' ' its own ethic, ts own inner meaning. And the tragedy 

^ of such compisory fellowship arises out of this, that a 

generation dos not in friendly fashion accept the 
achievements Oiits predecessors, does not gladly under- 
take the develojnent of their acquisitions. Like indi- 
vidual human bings, like nations, the generations are 
animated with bstile prejudices against their neigh- 
bors. Here, likewise, struggle and mistrust are the 
abiding law. Th second generation rejects what the 
first has done; the deeds of the first generation do not 
secure approval u.til the third or the fourth genera- 
! r tion. All evolution' akes place according to what Goethe 
' termed "a spiral returrence." As we rise, we revolve 
on narrowing circles round the same axis. Thus the 
struggle between geneation and generation is unceasing. 
Each generation is perforce unjust towards its prede- 
cessors. "As the geuQ-ations succeed one another, they 
become more strongly iware of the things which divide 
them than they are of the things which unite. They 
feel impelled to affirm tie indispensability, the impor- 
tance, of their own existence, even at the cost of injus- 
tice or falsehood to themsdves." Like individual hu- 
man beings, they have "an ege when one must be un- 
just if one is to be able to live." They have to live out 
their own lives vigorously, asserting their own pecul- 
iarities in respect of ideas, forms, and civilization. It 
is just as little possible to them to be considerate to- 
wards later generations, as it has been for earlier gen- 


erations to be considerate towards them. There pre- 
vails in this self-assertion the eternal law of the forest, 
where the young trees tend to push the earth away from 
the roots of the older trees, and to sap their strength, 
so that the living march over the corpses of the dead. 
The generations are at war, and each individual is un- 
wittingly a champion on behalf of his own era, even 
though he may feel himself out of sympathy with that 

Jean Christophe, the young solitary in revolt against 
his time, was without knowing it the representative of 
a fellowship. In and through him, his generation de- 
clared war against the dying generation, was unjust in 
his injustice, young in his youth, passionate in his pas- 
sion. He grew old with his generation, seeing new 
waves rising to overwhelm him and his work. Now, 
having gained wisdom, he refused to be wroth with 
those who were wroth with him. He saw that his ene- 
mies were displaying the injustice and the impetuosity 
which he had himself displayed of yore. Where he had 
fancied a mechanical destiny to prevail, life had now 
taught him to see a living flux. Those who in his youth 
had been fellow revolutionists, now grown conservative, 
were fighting against the new youth as they themselves 
in youth had fought against the old. Only the fighters 
were new; the struggle was unchanged. For his part, 
Jean Christophe had a friendly smile for the new, since 
he loved life more than he loved himself. Vainly does 
his friend Emmanuel urge him to defend himself, to 
pronounce a moral judgment upon a generation which 


declared valueless all the things which they of an earlier 
day had acclaimed as true with the sacrifice of their 
whole existence. Christophe answers: "What is true? 
We must not measure the ethic of a generation with the 
yardstick of an earlier time." Emmanuel retorts: 
"Why, then, did we seek a measure for life, if we were 
not to make it a law for others?" Christophe refers 
him to the perpetual flux, saying: "They have learned 
from us, and they are ungrateful; such is the inevitable 
succession of events. Enriched by our efforts, they ad- 
vance further than we were able to advance, realizing 
the conquests which we struggled to achieve. If any of 
the freshness of youth yet lingers in us, let us leam from 
them, and seek to rejuvenate ourselves. If this is be- 
yond our powers, if we are too old to do so, let us at 
least rejoice that they are young." 

Generations must grow and die as men grow and die. 
Everything on earth is subject to nature's laws, and the 
man strong in faith, the pious freethinker, bows himself 
to the law. But he does not fail to recognize (and 
herein we see one of the profoundest cultural acquire- 
ments of the book) that this very flux, this transvalua- 
tion of values, has its own secular rhythm. In former 
times, an epoch, a style, a faith, a philosophy, endured 
for a century; now such phases do not outlast a genera- 
tion, endure barely for a decade. The struggle ha3 
become fiercer and more impatient. Mankind marches 
to a quicker measure, digests ideas more rapidly than 
of old. "The development of European thought is pro- 
ceeding at a livelier pace, much as if its acceleration 


were concomitant with the advance in our powers of 
mechanical locomotion . . . The stores of prejudices | '-51^ 
and hopes which in former times would have nourished 
mankind for twenty years, are exhausted now in a lus- ■ 
trum. In intellectual matters the generations gallop 
one after another, and sometimes outspace one another." 
The rhythm of these spiritual transformations is the 
epopee of Jean Christophe. When the hero returns to 
Germany from Paris, he can hardly recognize his native 
land. When from Italy he revisits Paris, the city seems 
strange to him. Here and there he still finds the old 
"foire sur la place," but its affairs are transacted in a 
new currency; it is animated with a new faith; new 
ideas are exchanged in the market place; only the clamor 
rises as of old. Between Olivier and his son Georges 
lies an abyss like that which separates two worlds, and j 
Olivier is delighted that his son should regard him with I 
contempt. The abyss is an abyss of twenty years. 

Life must eternally express itself in new forms; it 
refuses to allow itself to be dammed up by outworn 
thoughts, to be hemmed in by the philosophies and re- 
ligions of the past; in its headstrong progress it sweeps 
accepted notions out of its way. Each generation can 
understand itself alone; it transmits a legacy to unknown 
heirs who will interpret and fulfill as seems best to 
them. As the heritage from his tragical and solitary 
generation, Rolland offers his great picture of a free 
soul. He offers it "to the free souls of all nations; to 
those who suffer, struggle, and will conquer." He offers 
it with the words: 


Jy "I have written the tragedy of a vanishing generation. 
I have made no attempt to conceal either its vices or its 
virtues, to hide its load of sadness, its chaotic pride, its 
heroic efforts, its struggles beneath the overwhelming 
burden of a superhuman task — the task of remaking an 
entire world, an ethic, an aesthetic, a faith, a new hu- 
manity. Such were we in our generation. 

"Men of to-day, young men, your turn has come. 
March forward over our bodies. Be greater and hap- 
pier than we have been. 

"For my part, I say farewell to my former soul. I 
cast it behind me like an empty shell. Life is a series 
of deaths and resurrections. Let us die, Christophe, 
that we may be reborn." 



JEAN CHRISTOPHE has reached the further shore. 
He has stridden across the river of life, encir- 
cled by roaring waves of music. Safely carried 
across seems the heritage which he has borne on his 
shoulders through storm and flood — the meaning of the 
world, faith in life. 

Once more he looks back towards his fellows in the 
land he has left. All has grown strange to him. He 
can no longer understand those who are laboring and 
suff'ering amid the ardors of illusion. He sees a new 
generation, young in a different way from his own, more ■ 
energetic, more brutal, more impatient, inspired with a 
diff'erent heroism. The children of the new days have j 
fortified their bodies with physical training, have steeled j 
their courage in aerial flights. "They are proud of their | 
muscles and their broad chests." They are proud of 
their country, their religion, their civilization, of all that 
they believe to be their own peculiar appanage; and 
from each of these prides they forge themselves a 
weapon. "They would rather act than understand." 
They wish to show their strength and test their powers. 
The dying man realizes with alarm that this new gen- \ 
eration, which has never known war, wants war. 



He looks shudderingly around : "The fire whicli had 
been smouldering in the European forest was now break- 
ing forth into flame. Extinguished in one place, it 
promptly began to rage in another. Amid whirlwinds 
of smoke and a rain of sparks, it leaped from point to 
point, while the parched undergrowth kindled. Out- 
post skirmishes in the east had already begun, as pre- 
ludes to the great war of the nations. The whole of 
Europe, that Europe which was still skeptical and apa- 
thetic like a dead forest, was fuel for the conflagration. 
The fighting spirit was universal. From moment to mo- 
ment, war seemed imminent. Stifled, it was continually 
reborn. The most trifling pretext served to feed its 
strength. The world felt itself to be at the mercy of 
chance, which would initiate the terrible struggle. It 
was waiting. A feeling of inexorable necessity weighed 
upon all, even upon the most pacific. The ideologues, 
sheltering in the shade of Proudhon the titan, hailed 
war as man's most splendid claim to nobility. 

"It was for this, then, that there had been eff'ected a 
physical and moral resurrection of the races of the west! 
It was towards these butcheries that the streams of action 
and passionate faith had been hastening! None but a 
Napoleonic genius could have directed these blind im- 
pulses to a foreseen and deliberately chosen end. But 
nowhere in Europe was there any one endowed with the 
genius for action. It seemed as if the world had singled 
out the most commonplace among its sons to be gover- 
nors. The forces of the human spirit were coursing in 
other channels." 


Christophe recalls those earlier days when he and Oli- 
vier had been concerned about the prospect of war. At 
that time there were but distant rumblings of the storm. 
Now the storm clouds covered all the skies of Europe. 
Fruitless had been the call to unity; vain had been the 
pointing out of the path through the darkness. Mourn- 
fully the seer contemplates in the distance the horsemen 
of the Apocalypse, the heralds of fratricidal strife. 

But beside the dying man is the Child, smiling and 
full of knowledge ; the Child who is Eternal Life. 


(Colas Breugnon) 

"Brugnon, mauvais gargon, tu ris, 
n'as tu pas honte?" — "Que veux tu, 
mon ami? Je suis ce que je suis. 
Rire ne m'empeche pas de souffrir; 
mais souffrir n'empecheia jamais un 
bon Frangais de rire. Ft qu'il rie 
ou larmoie, il faut d'abord qu'il 

Colas Breugnon. 



AT length, in this arduous career, came a period 
of repose. The great ten-volume novel had 
been finished ; the work of European scope had 
been completed. For the first time Remain Rolland 
could exist outside his work, free for new words, new 
configurations, new labors. His disciple Jean Chris- 
tophe, "the livest man of our acquaintance," as Ellen 
Key phrased it, had gone out into the world ; Christophe 
was collecting a circle of friends around him, a quiet 
but continually enlarging community. For Rolland, 
nevertheless, Jean Christophe's message was already a 
thing of the past. The author was in search of a new 
messenger, for a new message. 

Romain Rolland returned to Switzerland, a land he 
loved, lying between the three countries to which his af- 
fection had been chiefly given. The Swiss environment 
had been favorable to so much of his work. Jean Chris- 
tophe had been begun in Switzerland. A calm and 
beautiful summer enabled Rolland to recruit his ener- 
gies. There was a certain relaxation of tension. Al- 
most idly, he turned over various plans. He had al- 
ready begun to collect materials for a new novel, a dra- 



matic romance belonging to the same intellectual and 
cultural category as Jean Christophe. 

Now of a sudden, as had happened twenty-five years 
earlier when the vision of Jean Christophe had come to 
him on the Janiculum, in the course of sleepless nights 
he was visited by a strange and yet familiar figure, that 
of a countryman from ancestral days whose expansive 
personality thrust all ouier plans aside. Shortly before, 
Rolland had revisited Clamecy. The old town had 
awakened memories of his childhood. Almost una- 
wares, home influences were at work, and his native 
province had begun to insist that its son, who had de- 
scribed so many distant scenes, should depict the land 
of his birth. The Frenchman who had so vigorously 
and passionately transformed himself into a European, 
the man who had borne his testimony as European be- 
fore the world, was seized with a desire to be, for a 
creative hour, wholly French, wholly Burgundian, wholly 
Nivemais. The musician accustomed to unite all voices 
in his symphonies, to combine in them the deepest ex- 
pressions of feeling, was now longing to discover a new 
rhythm, and after prolonged tension to relax into a merry 
mood. For ten years he had been dominated by a sense 
of strenuous responsibility; the equipment of Jean Chris- 
tophe had been, as it were, a burden which his soul had 
had to bear. Now it would be a pleasure to pen a 
Scherzo, free and light, a work unconcerned with the 
stresses of politics, ethics, and contemporary history. 
It should be divinely irresponsible, an escape from the 
exactions of the time spirit. 


During the day following the first night on which the 
idea came to him, he had exultantly dismissed other 
plans. The rippling current of his thoughts was effort- 
less in its flow. Thus, to his own astonishment, during 
the summer months of 1913, RoUand was able to com- 
plete his light-hearted novel Colas Breugnon, the French 
intermezzo in the European symphony. 



IT seemed at first to Rolland as if a stranger, though 
one from his native province and of his own blood, 
had come cranking into his life. He felt as though, 
out of the clear French sky, the book had burst like a 
meteor upon his ken. True, the melody is new; different 
are the tempo, the key, the epoch. But those who have 
acquired a clear understanding of the author's inner life 
cannot fail to realize that this amusing book does not 
constitute an essential modification of his work. It is 
but a variation, in an archaic setting, upon Romain 
Rolland's leit-motif of faith in life. Prince Aert and 
King Louis were forefathers and brothers of Olivier. 
In like manner Colas Breugnon, the jovial Burgundian, 
the lusty wood-carver, the practical joker always fond 
of his glass, the droll fellow, is, despite his old-world 
costume, a brother of Jean Christophe looking at us 
adown the centuries. 

As ever, we find the same theme underlying the novel. 
The author shows us how a creative human being (those 
who are not creative, hardly count for Rolland) comes to 
terms with life, and above all with the tragedy of his 
own life. Colas Breugnon, like Jean Christophe^ is the 



romance of an artist's life. But the Burgundian is an 
artist of a vanished type, such as could not without 
anachronism have been introduced into Jean Christophe. 
Colas Breugnon is an artist only through fidelity, dili- 
gence, and fervor. In so far as he is an artist, it is in 
the faitliful performance of his daily task. What raises 
him to the higher levels of art is not inspiration, but his 
broad humanity, his earnestness, and his vigorous sim- 
plicity. For Rolland, he was typical of the nameless 
artists who carved the stone figures that adorn French 
cathedrals, the artist-craftsmen to whom we owe the 
beautiful gateways, the splendid castles, the glorious 
wrought ironwork of the middle ages. These artificers 
did not fashion their own vanity into stone, did not 
carve their own names upon their work; but they put 
something into that work which has grown rare to-day, 
the joy of creation. In Jean Christophe, on one oc- 
casion, Romain Rolland had indited an ode to the civic 
life of the old masters who were wholly immersed in 
the quiet artistry of their daily occupations. He had 
drawn attention to the life of Sebastian Bach and his 
congeners. In like manner, he now wished to display 
anew what he had depicted in so many portraits of the 
artists, in the studies of Michelangelo, Beethoven, Tol- 
stoi, and Handel. Like these sublime figures. Colas 
Breugnon took delight in his creative work. The mag- 
nificent inspiration that animated them was lacking to 
the Burgundian, but Breugnon had a genius for straight- 
forwardness and for sensual harmony. Without aspir- 
ing to bring salvation to the world, not attempting to 



' wrestle with the problems of passion and the spiritual 
life, he was content to strive for that supreme simplicity 
of craftsmanship which has a perfection of its own and 

i thus brings the craftsman into touch with the eternal. 
The primitive artist-artisan is contrasted with the com- 
paratively artificialized artist of modern days; Hephais- 
tos, the divine smith, is contrasted with the Pythian 
Apollo and with Dionysos. The simpler artist's sphere 
is perforce narrower, but it is enough that an artist 
should be competent to fill the sphere for which he is pre- 

Nevertheless, Colas Breugnon would not have been 
the typical artist of Rolland's creation, had not struggle 
been a conspicuous feature of his life, and had we not 
been shown through him that the real man is always 
stronger than his destiny. Even the cheerful Colas ex- 
periences a full measure of tragedy. His house is 
burned down, and the work of thirty years perishes in 
the flames; his wife dies; war devastates the country; 
envy and malice prevent the success of his last artistic 
creations; in the end, illness elbows him out of active 
life. The only defenses left him against his troubles, 
against age, poverty, and gout, are "the souls he has 
made," his children, his apprentice, and one friend. 
Yet this man, sprung from the Burgundian peasantry, 
has an armor to protect him from the bludgeonings of 
fate, armor no less effectual than was the invincible 
German optimism of Jean Christophe or the inviolable 
faith of Olivier. Breugnon has his imperturbable cheer- 
fulness. "Sorrows never prevent my laughing; and 


when I laugh, I can always weep at the same time." 
Epicure, gormandizer, deep drinker, ever ready to leave 
work for play, he is none the less a stoic when misfor- 
tune comes, an uncomplaining hero in adversity. When 
his house burns, he exclaims: "The less I have, the 
more I am." The Burgundian craftsman is a man of 
lesser stature than his brother of the Rhineland, but the 
Burgundian's feet are no less firmly planted on the be- 
loved earth. Whereas Christophe's daimon breaks forth 
in storms of rage and frenzy, Colas reacts against the 
visitations of destiny with the serene mockery of a 
healthy Gallic temperament. His whimsical humor 
helps him to face disaster and death. Assuredly this 
mental quality is one of the most valuable forms of 
spiritual freedom. 

Freedom, however, is the least important among the 
characteristics of Rolland's heroes. His primary aim 
is always to show us a typical example of a man armed 
against his doom and against his god, a man who will 
not allow himself to be defeated by the forces of life. 
In the work we are now considering, it amuses him 
to present the struggle as a comedy, instead of portray- 
ing it in a more serious dramatic vein. But the comedy 
is always transfigured by a deeper meaning. Despite 
the lighter touches, as when the forlorn old Colas is un- 
willing to take refuge in his daughter's house, or as 
when he boastfully feigns indifference after the destruc- 
tion of his home (lest his soul should be vexed by hav- 
ing to accept the sympathy of his fellow men), still amid 



this tragi-comedy he is animated by the unalloyed desire 
to stand by his own strength. 

Before everything, Colas Breugnon is a free man. 
That he is a Frenchman, that he is a burgher, are sec- 
ondary considerations. He loves his king, but only so 
long as the king leaves him his liberty; he loves his wife, 
but follows his own bent; he is on excellent terms with 
the priest of a neighboring parish, but never goes to 
church; he idolizes his children, but his vigorous indi- 
, viduality makes him unwilling to live with them. He is 
(^ friendly with all, but subject to none; W is freer than 
the king; he has that sense of humor characteristic of 
the free spirit to whom the whole world belongs. Among 
all nations and in all ages, that being alone is truly alive 
who is stronger than fate, who breaks through the seine 
of men and things as he swims freely down the great 
stream of life. We have seen how Christophe, the 
Rhinelander, exclaimed: "What is life? A tragedy! 
Hurrah!" From his Burgundian brother comes the re- 
sponse: "Struggle is hard, but struggle is a delight." 
Across the barriers of epoch and language, the two look 
on one another with sympathetic understanding. We 
realize that free men form a spiritual kinship independ- 
ent of the limitations imposed by race and time. 



ROMAIN HOLLAND had looked upon Colas 
Breugnon as an intermezzo, as an easy occupa- 
tion, which should, for a change, enable him 
to enjoy the delights of irresponsible creation. But 
there is no irresponsibility in art. A thing arduously 
conceived is often heavy in execution, whereas that which 
is lightly undertaken may prove exceptionally beautiful. 
From the artistic point of view, Colas Breugnon may 
perhaps be regarded as Holland's most successful work. 
This is because it is woven in one piece, because it flows 
with a continuous rhythm, because its progress is never 
arrested by the discussion of thorny problems. Jean 
Christophe was a book of responsibility and balance. 
It was to discuss all the phenomena of the day; to show 
how they looked from every side, in action and reaction. 
Each country in turn made its demand for full consid- 
eration. The encyclopedic picture of the world, the de- 
liberate comprehensiveness of the design, necessitated 
the forcible introduction of many elements which trans- 
cended the powers of harmonious composition. But 
Colas Breugnon is written throughout in the same key. 
The first sentence gives the note like a tuning fork, and 



thence the entire book takes its pitch. Throughout, the 
same lively melody is sustained. The writer employs a 
peculiarly happy form. His style is poetic without be- 
ing actually versified; it has a melodious measure with- 
out being strictly metrical. The book, printed as prose, 
is written in a sort of free verse, with an occasional 
rhymed series of lines. It is possible that Rolland 
adopted the fundamental tone from Paul Fort; but that 
which in the Ballades frangaises with their recurrent 
burdens leads to the formation of canzones, is here 
punctuated throughout an entire book, while the phras- 
ing is most ingeniously infused with archaic French 
locutions after the manner of Rabelas. 

Here, Rolland wishes to be a Frenchman. He goes 
to the very heart of the French spirit, has recourse to 
"gauloiseries," and makes the most successful use of 
the new medium, which is unique, and which cannot be 
compared with any familiar literary form. For the 
first time we encounter an entire novel which, while 
written in old-fashioned French like that of Balzac's 
Contes drolatiquesy succeeds in making its intricate dic- 
tion musical throughout. "The Old Woman's Death" 
and "The Burned House" are as vividly picturesque as 
ballads. Their characteristic and spiritualized rhyth- 
mical quality contrasts with the serenity of the other pic- 
tures, although they are not essentially different from 
these. The moods pass lightly, like clouds drifting 
across the sky; and even beneath the darkest of these 
clouds, the horizon of the age smiles with a fruitful 
clearness. Never was Rolland able to give such exqui- 


site expression to his poetic bent as in this book wherein 
he is wholly the Frenchman. What he presents to us as 
whimsical sport and caprice, displays more plainly than 
anything else the living wellspring of his power: his 
French soul immersed in its favorite element of music. 



JEAN CHRISTOPHE was the deliberate divergence 
from a generation. Colas Breaignon is another 
divergence, unconsciously eflfected; a divergence 
from the traditional France, heedlessly cheerful. This 
"bourguinon sale" wished to show his fellow countrymen 
of a later day how life can be salted with mockery and 
yet be full of enjoyment. Holland here displayed all 
the riches of his beloved homeland, displaying above all 
the most beautiful of these goods, the joy of life. 

A heedless world, our world of to-day, was to be awak- 
ened by the poet singing of an earlier world which had 
been likewise impoverished, had likewise wasted its ener- 
gies in futile hostility. A call to joy from a Frenchman, 
echoing down the ages, was to answer the voice of the 
German, Jean Christophe. Their two voices were to 
mingle harmoniously as the voices mingle in the Ode to 
Joy of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. During the tran- 
quil summer the pages were stacked like golden sheaves. 
The book was in the press, to appear during the next 
summer, that of 1914. 

But the summer of 1914 reaped a bloody harvest. 
The roar of the cannon, drowning Jean Christophe's 



warning cry, deafened the ears of those who might other- ^ 

wise have hearkened also to the call to joy. For five {yJV^ l^ 
years, the five most terrible years in the world's history, 
the luminous figure stood unheeded in the darkness. 
There was no coLJuncture between Colas Breugnon and 
"la douce France"; for this book, with its description of 
the cheerful France of old, was not to appear until that 
Old France had vanished for ever. 


One who is aware of values which he 
regards as a hundredfold more pre- 
cious than the wellbeing of the "fa- 
therland," of society, of the kinships 
of blood and race, values which 
stand above fatherlands and races, 
international values, such a man 
would prove himself hypocrite 
should he try to play the patriot. It 
is a degradation of mankind to en- 
courage national hatred, to admire 
it, or to extol it. 

Nietzsche, Vorreden Material im 

La vocation ne peut etre connue et 
prouvee que par le sacrifice que fait 
le savant et I'artiste de son repos et 
son bien-etre pour suivre sa vocation. 

Letter de Tolstoi a Romain 


4, Octobre, 1887. 



THE events of August 2, 1914, broke Europe into 
fragments. Therewith collapsed the faith which 
the brothers in the spirit, Jean Christophe and 
Olivier, had been building with their lives. A great 
heritage was cast aside. The idea of human brother- 
hood, once sacred, was buried contemptuously by the 
grave-diggers of all the lands at war, buried among the 
million corpses of the slain. 

Romain Rolland was faced by an unparalleled re- 
sponsibility. He had presented the problems in imagi- 
native form. Now they had come up for solution as 
terrible realities. Faith in Europe, the faith which he 
had committed to the care of Jean Christophe, had no pro- 
tector, no advocate, at a time when it was more than ever 
necessary to raise its standard against the storm. Well 
did the poet know that a truth remains naught but a half- 
truth while it exists merely in verbal formulation. It 
is (in action that a thought becomes genuinely alive. A 
faith proves itself real in the form of a public confession. 

In Jean Christophe, Romain Rolland had delivered his 
message to this fated hour. To make the confession a 
live thing, he had to give something more, himself. The 



time had come for him to do what Jean Christophe had 
done for Olivier's son. He must guard the sacred flame; 
he must fulfil what his hero had prophetically fore- 
shadowed. The way in which Holland fulfilled this 
obligation has become for us all an imperishable exam- 
ple of spiritual heroism, which moves us even more 
strongly than we were moved by his written words. We 
saw his life and personality taking the form of an actu- 
ally living conviction. We saw how, with the whole 
power of his name, and with all the energy of his artistic 
temperament, he took his stand against multitudinous 
adversaries in his own land and in other countries, his 
gaze fixed upon the heaven of his faith. 

Holland had never failed to recognize that in a time of 
widespread illusion it would be difficult to hold fast to 
his convictions, however self-evident they might seem. 
But, as he wrote to a French friend in September, 1914, 
"We do not choose our own duties. Duty forces itself 
upon us. Mine is, with the aid of those who share my 
ideas, to save from the deluge the last vestiges of the 
European spirit . . . Mankind demands of us that those 
who love their fellows should take a firm stand, and 
should even fight, if needs must, against those they love." 

For five years we have watched the heroism of this 
fight, pursuing its own course amid the warring of the 
nations. We have watched the miracle of one man's 
keeping his senses amid the frenzied millions, of one 
man's remaining free amid the universal slavery of pub- 
lic opinion. We have watched love at war with hate, 
the European at war with the patriots, conscience at war 


with the world. Throughout this long and bloody night, 
when we were often ready to perish from despair at the 
meaninglessness of nature, the one thing which has con- 
soled us and sustained us has been the recognition that 
the mighty forces which were able to crush towns and 
annihilate empires, were powerless against an isolated 
individual possessed of the will and the courage to be 
free. Those who deemed themselves the victors over 
mill ions, were to find that there was one thing which they 
could not master, a free conscience. 

Vain, therefore, was their triumph, when they buried 
the crucified thought of Europe. True faith works 
miracles. Jean Christophe had burst the bonds of death, 
had risen again in the living form of his own creator. 



WE do not detract from the moral services of 
Remain Rolland, but we may perhaps ex- 
cuse to some extent his opponents, when we 
insist that Rolland had excelled all contemporary imagi- 
|! native writers in the profundity of his preparatory studies 
I of war and its problems. If to-day, in retrospect, we 
contemplate his writings, we marvel to note how, from 
the very first and throughout a long period of years, 
they combined to build up, as it were, a colossal pyramid, 
culminating in the point upon which the lightnings of 
war were to be discharged. For twenty years, the au- 
thor's thought, his whole creative activity, had been un- 
intermittently concentrated upon the contradictions be- 
tween spirit and force, between freedom and the father- 
land, between victory and defeat. Through a hundred 
variations he had pursued the same fundamental theme, 
treating it dramatically, epically, and in manifold other 
ways. There is hardly a problem relevant to this ques- 
tion which is not touched upon by Christophe and Olivier, 
by Aert and by the Girondists, in their discussions. In- 
tellectually regarded, Rolland's writings are a maneu- 
vering ground for all the incentives to war. He thus had 



his conclusions already drawn when others were begin- 
ning an attempt to come to terms with events. As his- 
torian, he had described the perpetual recurrence of 
war's typical accompaniments, had discussed the psy- 
chology of mass suggestion, and had shown the effects of 
wartime mentality upon the individual. As moralist and 
as citizen of the world, he had long ere this formulated 
his creed. We may say, in fact, that Rolland's mind had » 

been in a sense immunized against the illusions of the \9 ^ w ^ 

crowd and against infection by prevalent falsehoods. 
V Not by chance does an artist decide which problems he 
will consider. The dramatist does not make a "lucky 
selection" of his theme. The musician does not "dis- 
cover" a beautiful melody, but already has it within 
him. It is not the artist who creates the problems, but 
the problems which create the artist; just as it is not the 
prophet who makes his prophecy, but the foresight which 
creates the prophet. The artist's choice is always pre- 
ordained. The man who has foreseen the essential prob- 
lem of a whole civilization, of a disastrous epoch, must 
of necessity, in the decisive hour, play a leading part. 
He only who had contemplated the coming European 
war as an abyss towards which the mad hunt of recent 
decades, making light of every warning, had been speed- 
ing, only such a one could command his soul, could re- 
frain from joining the bacchanalian rout, could listen un- 
moved to the throbbing of the war drums. Who but such 
a man could stand upright in the greatest storm of illu- 
sion the world has ever known? 

Thus it came to pass that not merely during the first 


hour of the war was Holland in opposition to other writ- 
ters and artists of the day. This opposition dated from 
the very inception of his career, and hence for twenty 
years he had been a solitary. The reason why the con- 
trast between his outlook and that of his generation had 
not hitherto been conspicuous, the reason why the cleav- 
age was not disclosed until the actual outbreak of war, 
lies in this, that Holland's divergence was a matter not 
so much of mood as of character. Before the apocalyp- 
tic year, almost all persons of artistic temperament had 
recognized quite as definitely as Holland had recognized 
that a fratricidal struggle between Europeans would be 
a crime, would disgrace civilization. With few excep- 
tions, they were pacifists. It would be more correct to 
say that with few exceptions they believed themselves to 
be pacifists. For pacifism does not simply mean, to be a 
friend to peace, but to be a worker in the cause of peace, 
an dprjvoTTOLO'i^ as the New Testament has it. Pacifism 
signifies the activity of an effective will to peace, not 
merely the love of an easy life and a preference for re- 
pose. It signifies struggle; and like every struggle it 
demands, in the hour of danger, self-sacrifice and hero- 
' ism. Now these "pacifists" we have just been consider- 
ing had merely a sentimental fondness for peace; they 
were friendly towards peace, just as they were friendly 
towards ideas of social equality, towards philanthropy, 
towards the abolition of capital punishment. Such faith 
as they possessed was a faith devoid of passion. They 
wore their opinions as they wore their clothing, and when 
the time of trial came they were ready to exchange their 


pacifist ethic lor the ethic of the war-makers, were ready 
to don a national uniform in matters of opinion. At bot- 
tom, they knew the right just as well as Rolland, but 
they had not the courage of their opinions. Goethe's 
saying to Eckermann applies to them with deadly force. 
"All the evils of modern literature are due to lack of 
character in individual investigators and writers." 

Thus Rolland did not stand alone in his knowledge, 
which was shared by many intellectuals and statesmen. 
But in his case, all his knowledge was tinged with re- 
ligious fervor; his beliefs were a living faith; his 
thoughts were actions. He was unique among imagina- 
ive writers for the splendid vigor with which he remained 
true to his ideals when all others were deserting the 
standard; for the way in which he defended the European 
spirit against the raging armies of the sometime European 
intellectuals now turned patriots. Fighting as he had 
fought from youth upwards on behalf of the invisible 
against the world of reality, he displayed, as a foil to 
the heroism of the trenches, a higher heroism still. 
While the soldiers were manifesting the heroism of blood, 
Rolland manifested the heroism of the spirit, and showed 
the glorious spectacle of one who was able, amid the 
intoxication of the war-maddened masses, to maintain the 
sobriety and freedom of an unclouded mind. 



AT the outbreak of the war, Romain Rolland was 
in Vevey, a small and ancient city on the lake 
of Geneva. With few exceptions he spent his 
summers in Switzerland, the country in which some of 
his best literary work had been accomplished. In 
Switzerland, where the nations join fraternal hands to 
form a state, where Jean Christophe had heralded Euro- 
pean unity, Rolland received the news of the world dis- 

Of a sudden it seemed as if his whole life had become 
meaningless. Vain had been his exhortations, vain the 
twenty years of ardent endeavor. He had feared this 
disaster since early boyhood. He had made Olivier cry 
in torment of soul: "I dread war so greatly, I have 
dreaded it for so long. It has been a nightmare to me, 
and it poisoned my childhood's days." Now, what he 
had prophetically anticipated had become a terrible real- 
ity for hundreds of millions of human beings. The 
agony of the hour was nowise diminished because he had 
foreseen its coming to be inevitable. On the contrary, 
while others hastened to deaden their senses with the 
opium of false conceptions of duty and with the hashish 
dreams of victory, Rolland's pitiless sobriety enabled 



him to look far out into the future. On August 3rd he 
■wrote in his diary: "I feel at the end of my resources. 
I wish I were dead. It is live when men have 
gone mad, horrible to witness the collapse of civiliza- 
tion. This European war is the greatest catastrophe in 
the history of many centuries, the overthrow of our dear- 
est hopes of human brotherhood." A few days later, 
in still greater despair, he penned the following entry: 
"My distress is so colossal an accumulation of distresses 
that I can scarcely breathe. The ravaging of France, 
the fate of my friends, their deaths, their wounds. The 
grief at all this suffering, the heartrending sympathetic 
anguish with the millions of sufferers. I feel a moral 
death-struggle as I look on at this mad humanity which 
is offering up its most precious possessions, its energies, 
its genius, its ardors of heroic devotion, which is sacri- 
ficing all these things to the murderous and stupid idols 
of war. I am heartbroken at the absence of any divine 
message, any divine spirit, any moral leadership, which 
might upbuild the City of God when the carnage is at an 
end. The futility of my whole life has reached its cli- 
max. If I could but sleep, never to reawaken." 

Frequently, in this torment of mind, he desired to re- 
turn to France; but he knew that he could be of no use 
there. In youth, undersized and delicate, he had been 
unfit for military service. Now, hard upon fifty years of 
age, he would obviously be of even less account. The 
merest semblance of helping in the war would have been 
repugnant to his conscience, for his acceptance of Tol- 
stoi's teaching had made his convictions steadfast. He 


knew that it was incumbent upon him to defend France, 
but to do so in another sense than that of the combatants 
and that of the intellectuals clamorous with hate. "A 
great nation," he wrote more than a year later, in the 
preface to Au-dessus de la melee, "has not only its fron- 
tiers to protect; it must also protect its good sense. It 
must protect itself from the hallucinations, injustices, and 
follies which war lets loose. To each his part. To the 
armies, the protection of the soil of their native land. To 
the thinkers, the defense of its thought. . . . The spirit 
is by no means the most insignificant part of a people's 
patrimony." In these opening days of misery, it was not 
yet clear to him whether and how he would be called 
upon to speak. Yet he knew that if and when he did 
speak, he would take up his parable on behalf of intel- 
lectual freedom and supranational justice. 

But justice must have freedom of outlook. Nowhere 
except in a neutral country could the observer listen to 
all voices, make acquaintance with all opinions. From 
such a country alone could he secure a view above the 
smoke of the battle-field, above the mist of falsehood, 
above the poison gas of hatred. Here he could retain 
freedom of judgment and freedom of speech. In Jean 
Christophe, he had shown the dangerous power of mass 
suggestion. "Under its influence," he had written, "in 
every country the firmest intelligences felt their most 
cherished convictions melting away." No one knew bet- 
ter than Rolland "the spiritual contagion, the all-pervad- 
ing insanity, of collective thought." Knowing these 
things so well, he wished all the more to remain free 


from them, to shun the intoxication of the crowd, to avoid 
the risk of having to follow any other leadership than 
that of his conscience. He had merely to turn to his 
own writings. He could read there the words of Olivier: 
"I love France, but I cannot for the sake of France kill 
my soul or betray my conscience. This would indeed be 
to betray my country. How can I hate when I feel no 
hatred? How can I truthfully act the comedy of hate?" 
Or, again, he could read this memorable confession: "I 
will not hate. I will be just even to my enemies. Amid 
all the stresses of passion, I wish to keep my vision clear, 
that I may understand everything and thus be able to 
love everything." Only in freedom, only in indepen- 
dence of spirit, can the artist aid his nation. Thus alone 
can he serve his generation, thus alone can he serve 
humanity. Loyalty to truth is loyalty to the fatherland. 
What had befallen through chance was now confirmed 
by deliberate choice. During the five years of the war 
Romain Rolland remained in Switzerland, Europe's 
heart; remained there that he might fulfil his task, "de 
dire ce qui est juste et humain." Here, where the 
breezes blow freely from all other lands, and whence a 
voice could pass freely across all the frontiers, here 
where no fetters were imposed upon speech, he followed 
the call of his invisible duty. Close at hand the endless 
waves of blood and hatred emanating from the frenzy of 
war were foaming against the frontiers of the cantonal 
state. But throughout the storm, the magnetic needle of 
one intelligence continued to point unerringly towards 
the immutable pole of life — to point towards love. 



IN RoUand's view it was the artist's duty to serve his 
fatherland by conscientious service to all mankind, 
to play his part in the struggle by waging war 
against the suffering the war was causing and against 
the thousandfold torments entailed by the war. He re- 
jected the idea of absolute aloofness. "An artist has no 
right to hold aloof while he is still able to help others." 
But this aid, this participation, must not take the form of 
fostering the murderous hatred which already animated 
the millions. The aim must be to unite the millions 
further, where unseen ties already existed, in their infi- 
nite suffering. He therefore took his part in the ranks 
of the helpers, not weapon in hand, but following the 
example of Walt Whitman, who, during the American 
Civil War, served as hospital assistant. 

Hardly had the first blows been struck when cries of 
anguish from all lands began to be heard in Switzerland. 
Thousands who were without news of fathers, husbands, 
and sons in the battlefields, stretched despairing arms 
into the void. By hundreds, by thousands, by tens of 
thousands, letters and telegrams poured into the little 
House of the Red Cross in Geneva, the only international 



rallying point that still remained. Isolated, like stormy 
petrels, came the first inquiries for missing relatives; 
then these inquiries themselves became a storm. The 
letters arrived in sackfuls. Nothing had been prepared 
for dealing with such an inundation of misery. The Red 
Cross had no space, no organization, no system, and 
above all no helpers. 

Romain Rolland was one of the first to offer personal 
assistance. The Musee Rath was quickly made available 
for the purposes of the Red Cross. In one of the small 
wooden cubicles, among hundreds of girls, women, and 
students, Rolland sat for more than eighteen months, 
engaged each day for from six to eight hours side by 
side with the head of the undertaking, Dr. Ferriere, to 
whose genius for organization myriads owe it that the 
period of suspense was shortened. Here Rolland filed 
letters, wrote letters, performed an abundance of detail 
work, seemingly of little importance. But how moment- 
ous was every word to the individuals whom he could 
help, for in this vast universe each suffering individual 
is mainly concerned about his own particular grain of 
unhappiness. Countless persons to-day, unaware of the 
fact, have to thank the great writer for news of their 
lost relatives. A rough stool, a small table of unpolished 
deal, the turmoil of typewriters, the bustle of human be- 
ings questioning, calling one to another, hastening to and 
fro — such was Romain Rolland's battlefield in this cam- 
paign against the afflictions of the war. Here, while 
other authors and intellectuals were doing their utmost 
to foster mutual hatred, he endeavored to promote rec- 


onciliation, to alleviate the torment of a fraction among 
the countless sufferers by such consolation as the circum- 
stances rendered possible. He neither desired, nor occu- 
pied, a leading position in the work of the Red Cross; 
but, like so many other nameless assistants, he devoted 
himself to the daily task of promoting the interchange of 
news. His deeds were inconspicuous, and are therefore 
all the more memorable. 

When he was allotted the Nobel peace prize, he re- 
fused to retain the money for his own use, and devoted 
the whole sum -to the mitigation of the miseries of Eu- 
rope, that he might suit the action to the word, the word 
to the action. Ecce homo! Ecce poeta! 



NO one had been more perfectly forearmed than 
Romain Rolland. The closing chapters of 
Jean Christophe foretell the coming mass illu- 
sion. Never for a moment had he entertained the vain 
hope of certain idealists that the fact (or semblance) of 
civilization, that the increase of human kindliness which 
we owe to two millenniums of Christianity, would make 
a future war, comparatively humane. Too well did he 
know as historian that in the initial outbursts of war 
passion the veneer of civilization and Christianity would 
be rubbed off; that in all nations alike the naked bestial- 
ity of human beings would be disclosed; that the smell 
of the shed blood would reduce them all to the level of 
wild beasts. He did not conceal from himself that this 
strange halitus is able to dull and to confuse even the 
gentlest, the kindliest, the most intelligent of souls. The 
rending asunder of ancient friendships, the sudden soli- 
darity among persons most opposed in temperament now 
eager to abase themselves before the idol of the father- 
land, the total disappearance of conscientious convic- 
tion at the first breath of the actualities of war — in Jean 
Christophe these things were written no less plainly than 



when of old the fingers of the hand wrote upon the palace 
wall in Babylon. 

Nevertheless, even this prophetic soul had underesti- 
mated the cruel reality. During the opening days of the 
war, Rolland was horrified to note how all previous wars 
were being eclipsed in the atrocity of the struggle, in its 
material and spiritual brutality, in its extent, and in the 
intensity of its passion. All possible anticipations had 
been outdone. Although for thousands of years, by 
twos or variously allied, the peoples of Europe had al- 
most unceasingly been warring one with another, never 
before had their mutual hatreds, as manifested in word 
and deed, risen to such a pitch as in this twentieth cen- 
tury after the birth of Christ. Never before in the his- 
tory of mankind did hatred extend so widely through the 
populations; never did it rage so fiercely among the in- 
tellectuals; never before was oil pumped into the flames 
as it was now pumped from innumerable fountains and 
tubes of the spirit, from the canals of the newspapers, 
from the retorts of the professors. All evil instincts 
were fostered among the masses. The whole world of 
feeling, the whole world of thought, became militarized. 
The loathsome organization for the dealing of death by 
material weapons was yet more loathsomely reflected in 
the organization of national telegraphic bureaus to scat- 
ter lies like sparks over land and sea. For the first 
time, science, poetry, art, and philosophy became no less 
subservient to war than mechanical ingenuity was sub- 
servient. In the pulpits and professorial chairs, in the 
research laboratories, in the editorial offices and in the 


authors' studies, all energies were concentrated as by an 
invisible system upon the generation and diffusion of 
hatred. The seer's apocalyptic warnings were sur- 

A deluge of hatred and blood such as even the blood- 
drenched soil of Europe had never known, flowed from 
land to land. Romain Rolland knew that a lost world, a 
corrupt generation, cannot be saved from its illusions. 
A world conflagration cannot be extinguished by a word, 
cannot be quelled by the efforts of naked human hands. 
The only possible endeavor was to prevent others adding 
fuel to the flames, and with the lash of scorn and con- 
tempt to deter as far as might be those who were engaged 
in such criminal undertakings. It might be possible, 
too, to build an ark wherein what was intellectually pre- 
cious in this suicidal generation might be saved from the 
deluge, might be made available for those of a future 
day when the waters of hatred should have subsided. A 
sign might be uplifted, round which the faithful could 
rally, building a temple of unity amid, and yet high 
above, the battlefields. — 

Among the detestable organizations of the general 
staffs, mechanical ingenuity, lying, and hatred, Rolland 
dreamed of establishing another organization, a fellow- 
ship of the free spirits of Europe. The leading imagina- 
tive writers, the leading men of science, were to constitute 
the ark he desired; they were to be the sustainers of 
justice in these days of injustice and falsehood. While 
the masses, deceived by words, were raging against one 
another in blind fury, the artists, the writers, the men of 


science, of Germany, France, and England, who for cen- 
turies had been cooperating for discoveries, advances, 
ideals, could combine to form a tribunal of the spirit 
which, with scientific earnestness, should devote itself to 
extirpating the falsehoods that were keeping their re- 
spective peoples apart. Transcending nationality, they 
could hold intercourse on a higher plane. For it was 
Rolland's most cherished hope that the great artists and 
great investigators would refuse to identify themselves 
with the crime of the war, would refrain from abandon- 
ing their freedom of conscience and from entrenching 
themselves behind a facile "my country, right or wrong." 
With few exceptions, intellectuals had for centuries 
recognized the repulsiveness of war. More than a thou- 
sand years earlier, when China was threatened by ambi- 
tious Mongols, Li Tai Peh had exclaimed: "Accursed 
be war! Accursed the work of weapons! The sage has 
nothing to do with these follies." The contention that 
the sage has naught to do with such follies seems to rise 
like an unenunciated refrain from all the utterances of 
western men of learning since Europe began to have a 
common life. In Latin letters (for Latin, the medium 
of intercourse, was likewise the symbol of supranational 
fellowship), the great humanists whose respective coun- 
tries were at war exchanged their regrets, and offered 
mutual philosophical solace against the murderous illu- 
sions of their less instructed fellows. Herder was speak- 
ing for the learned Germans of the eighteenth century 
when he wrote : "For fatherland to engage in a bloody 
struggle with fatherland is the most preposterous barbar- 


ism." Goethe, Byron, Voltaire, and Rousseau, were at 
one in their contempt for the purposeless butcheries of 
war. To-day, in Rolland's view, the leading intellec- 
tuals, the great scientific investigators whose minds would 
perforce remain unclouded, the most humane among the 
imaginative writers, could join in a fellowship whose 
members would renounce the errors of their respective 
nations. He did not, indeed, venture to hope that there 
would be a very large number of persons whose souls 
would remain free from the passions of the time. But 
spiritual force is not based upon numbers; its laws are 
not those of armies. In this field, Goethe's saying is ap- 
plicable: "Everything great, and everything most worth 
having comes from a minority. It cannot be supposed 
that reason will ever become popular. Passion and 
sentiment may be popularized, the reason will always 
remain a privilege of the few." This minority, how- 
ever, may acquire authority through spiritual force. 
Above all, it may constitute a bulwark against falsehood. 
If men of light and leading, free men of all nationalities, 
were to meet somewhere, in Switzerland perhaps, to make 
common cause against every injustice, by whomever com- 
mitted, a sanctuary would at length be established, an 
asylum for truth which was now everywhere bound and 
gagged. Europe would have a span of soil for home; 
mankind would have a spark of hope. Holding mutual 
converse, these best of men could enlighten one another; 
and the reciprocal illumination on the part of such un- 
prejudiced persons could not fail to diffuse its light over 
the world. 


Such was the mood in which Holland took up his pen 
for the first time after the outbreak of war. He wrote 
an open letter to Hauptmann, to the author whom among 
Germans he chiefly honored for goodness and humane- 
ness. Within the same hour he wrote to Verhaeren, 
Germany's bitterest foe. Holland thus stretched forth 
both hi^ hands, rightward and leftward, in the hope that 
he could bring his two correspondents together, so that 
at least within the domain of pure spirit there might be 
a first essay towards spiritual reconciliation, what time 
upon the battlefields the machine-guns with their infernal 
clatter were mowing down the sons of France, Germany, 
Belgium, Britain, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. 



ROMAIN HOLLAND had never been personally 
acquainted with Gerhart Hauptmann. He 
was familiar with the German's writings, and 
admired their passionate participation in all that is 
human, loved them for the goodness with which the 
individual figures are intentionally characterized. On 
a visit to Berlin, he had called at Hauptmann's house, 
but the playwright was away. The two had never before 
exchanged letters. 

Nevertheless, Holland decided to address Hauptmann 
as a representative German author, as writer of Die 
Weber and as creator of many other figures typifying 
suffering. He wrote on August 29, 1914, the day on 
which a telegram issued by Wolff's agency, ludicrously 
exaggerating in pursuit of the policy of "frightfulness," 
had announced that "the old town of Louvain, rich in 
works of art, exists no more to-day." An outburst of 
indignation was assuredly justified, but Rolland en- 
deavored to exhibit the utmost self-control. He began 
as follows: "I am not, Gerhart Hauptmann, one of 
those Frenchmen who regard Germany as a nation of 
barbarians. I know the intellectual and moral great- 



ness of your mighty race. I know all that I owe to the 
thinkers of Old Germany; and even now, at this hour, I 
recall the example and the words of our Goethe — for 
he belongs to the whole of humanity — repudiating all na- 
tional hatreds and preserving the calmness of his soul 
on those heights 'where we feel the happiness and the 
misfortunes of other peoples as our own.' " He goes on 
with a pathetic self -consciousness for the first time notice- 
able in the work of this most modest of writers. Recog- 
nizing his mission, he lifts his voice above the contro- 
versies of the moment. "I have labored all my life to 
bring together the minds of our two nations; and the 
atrocities of this impious war in which, to the ruin of 
European civilization, they are involved, will never lead 
me to soil my spirit with hatred." 

Now Rolland sounds a more impassioned note. He 
does not hold Germany responsible for the war. "War 
springs from the weakness and stupidity of nations." 
He ignores political questions, but protests vehemently 
against the destruction of works of art, asking Haupt- 
mann and his countrymen, "Are you the grandchildren 
of Goethe or of Attila?" Proceeding more quietly, he 
implores Hauptmann to refrain from any attempt to 
justify such things. "In the name of our Europe, of 
which you have hitherto been one of the most illustrious 
champions, in the name of that civilization for which 
the greatest of men have striven all down the ages, in the 
name of the very honor of your Germanic race, Gerhart 
Hauptmann, I adjure you, I challenge you, you and the 
intellectuals of Germany, among whom I reckon so many 


friends, to protest with the utmost energy against this 
crime which will otherwise recoil upon yourselves." 
Rolland's hope was that the Germans would, like him- 
self, refuse to condone the excesses of the war-makers, 
would refuse to accept the war as a fatality. He hoped 
for a public protest from across the Rhine. Rolland 
was not aware that at this time no one in Germany had 
or could have any inkling of the true political situation. 
He was not aware that such a public protest as he de- 
sired was quite impossible. 

Gerhart Hauptmann's answer struck a fiercer note than 
Rolland's letter. Instead of complying with the French- 
man's plea, instead of repudiating the German militarist 
policy of frightfulness, he attempted, with sinister en- 
thusiasm, to justify that policy. Accepting the maxim, 
"war is war," he, somewhat prematurely, defended the 
right of the stronger. "The weak naturally have re- 
course to vituperation." He declared the report of the 
destruction of Louvain to be false. It was, he said, a 
matter of life or death for Germany that the German 
troops should effect "their peaceful passage" through 
Belgium. He referred to the pronouncements of the 
general staff, and quoted, as the highest authority for 
truth, the words of "the Emperor himself." 

Therewith the controversy passed from the spiritual to 
the political plane. Rolland, embittered in his turn, 
rejected the views of Hauptmann, who was lending his 
moral authority to the support of Schlieffen's aggressive 
theories. Hauptmann, declared Rolland, was "accept- 
ing responsibility for the crimes of those who wield 


authority." Instead of promoting harmony, the cor- 
respondence was fostering discord. In reality the two 
had no common ground for discussion. The attempt 
was ill-timed, passion still ran too high; the mists of pre- 
valent falsehood still obscured vision on both sides. 
The waters of the flood continued to rise, the infinite 
deluge of hatred and error. Brethren were as yet un- 
able to recognize one another in the darkness. 



HAVING written to Gerhart Hauptmann, the 
German, Rolland almost simultaneously ad- 
dressed himself to Emile Verhaeren, the Bel- 
gian, who had been an enthusiast for European unity, 
but had now become one of Germany's bitterest foes. 
Perhaps no one is better entitled than the present writer 
to bear witness that Verhaeren's hostility to Germany 
was a new thing. As long as peace lasted, the Belgian 
poet had known no other ideal than that of international 
brotherhood, had detested nothing more heartily than he 
detested international discord. Shortly before the war, 
in his preface to Henri Guilbeaux's anthology of Ger- 
man poetry, Verhaeren had spoken of "the ardor of the 
nations," which, he said, "in defiance of that other pas- 
sion which tends to make them quarrel, inclines them 
towards mutual love." The German invasion of Bel- 
gium taught him to hate. His verses, which had hitherto 
been odes to creative force, were henceforward dithy- 
rambs in favor of hostility. 

Rolland had sent Verhaeren a copy of his protest 
against the destruction of Louvain and the bombardment 
of Rheims cathedral. Concurring in this protest, Ver- 



haeren wrote: "Sadness and hatred overpower me. 
The latter feeling is new in my experience. I cannot 
rid myself of it, although I am one of those who have 
always regarded hatred as a base sentiment. Such love 
as I can give in this hour is reserved for my country, 
or rather for the heap of ashes to which Belgium has 
been reduced." Rolland's answer ran as follows: 
"Rid yourself of hatred. Neither you nor we should 
give way to it. Let us guard against hatred even more 
than we guard against our enemies! You will see at 
a later date that the tragedy is more terrible than peo- 
ple can realize while it is actually being played. . . . 
So stupendous is this European drama that we have no 
right to make human beings responsible for it. It is a 
convulsion of nature . . . Let us build an ark as did 
those who were threatened with the deluge. Thus we can 
save what is left of humanity." Without acrimony, 
Verhaeren rejected this adjuration. He deliberately 
chose to remain inspired with hatred, little as he liked the 
feeling. In La Belgique sanglante, he declared that 
hatred brought a certain solace, although, dedicating his 
work "to the man I once was," he manifested his yearn- 
ing for the revival of his former sentiment that the world 
was a comprehensive whole. Vainly did Rolland return 
to the charge in a touching letter: "Greatly, indeed, 
must you have suffered, to be able to hate. But I am 
confident that in your case such a feeling cannot long 
endure, for souls like yours would perish in this atmos- 
phere. Justice must be done, but it is not a demand of 
justice that a whole people should be held responsible 


for the crimes of a few hundred individuals. Were there 
but one just man in Israel, you would have no right to 
pass judgment upon all Israel. Surely it is impossible 
for you to doubt that many in Germany and Austria, 
oppressed and gagged, continue to suffer and struggle. 
. . . Thousands of innocent persons are being every- 
where sacrificed to the crimes of politics! Napoleon 
was not far wrong when he said: 'Politics are for us 
what fate was for the ancients.' Never was the destiny 
of classical days more cruel. Let us refuse, Verhaeren, 
to make common cause with this destiny. Let us take 
our stand beside the oppressed, beside all the oppressed, 
wherever they may dwell. I recognize only two nations 
on earth, that of those who suffer, and that of those who 
cause the suffering." 

Verhaeren, however, was unmoved. He answered as 
follows: "If I hate, it is because what I saw, felt, and 
heard, is hateful ... I admit that I cannot be just, now 
that I am filled with sadness and bum with anger. I am 
not simply standing near the fire, but am actually amid 
the flames, so that I suffer and weep. I can no other- 
wise." He remained loyal to hatred, and indeed loyal 
to the hatred-for-hate of Romain Rolland's Olivier. 
Notwithstanding this grave divergence of view between 
Verhaeren and Rolland, the two men continued on terms 
of friendship and mutual respect. Even in the preface 
he contributed to Loyson's inflammatory book, Etes-vous 
neutre devant le crime, Verhaeren distinguished be- 
tween the person and the cause. He was unable, he said, 
"to espouse Rolland's error," but he would not repudiate 


his friendship for Rolland. Indeed, he desired to 
emphasize its existence, seeing that in France it was al- 
ready "dangerous to love Romain Rolland." 

In this correspondence, as in that with Hauptmann, 
two strong passions seemed to clash; but the opponents 
in reality remained out of touch. Here, likewise, the 
appeal was fruitless. Practically the whole world was 
given over to hatred, including even the noblest creative 
artists, and the finest among the sons of men. 



AS on so many previous occasions in his life of 
action, this man of inviolable faith had issued 
to the world an appeal for fellowship, and had 
issued it once more in vain. The writers, the men of 
science, the philosophers, the artists, all took the side of 
the country to which they happened to belong; the Ger- 
mans spoke for Germany, the Frenchmen for France, the 
Englishmen for England. No one would espouse the 
universal cause; no one would rise superior to the device, 
my country right or wrong. In every land, among those 
of every nation, there were to be found plenty of en- 
thusiastic advocates, persons willing blindly to justify all 
their country's doings, including its errors and its crimes, 
to excuse these errors and crimes upon the plea of neces- 
sity. There was only one land, the land common to them 
all, Europe, motherland of all the fatherlands, which 
found no advocate, no defender. There was only one 
idea, the most self-evident to a Christian world, which 
found no spokesman — the idea of ideas, humanity. 

During these days, Holland may well have recalled 
sacred memories of the time when Leo Tolstoi's letter 
came to give him a mission in life. Tolstoi had stood 



alone in the utterance of his celebrated outcry, "I can no 
longer keep silence." At that time his country was at 
war. He arose to defend the invisible rights of human 
beings, uttering a protest against the command that men 
should murder their brothers. Now his voice was no 
longer heard; his place was empty; the conscience of 
mankind was dumb. To Rolland, the consequent 
silence, the terrible silence of the free spirit amid the 
hurly-burly of the slaves, seemed more hateful than the 
roar of the cannon. Those to whom he had appealed 
for help had refused to answer the call. The ultimate 
truth, the truth of conscience, had no organized fellow- 
ship to sustain it. , No one would aid him in the struggle 
for the freedom of the European soul, the struggle of 
truth against falsehood, the struggle of human loving- 
kindness against frenzied hate. Rolland once again was 
alone with his faith, more alone than during the bitter- 
est years of solitude. 

But Rolland has never been one to resign himself to 
loneliness. In youth he had already felt that those who 
are passive while wrong is being done are as criminal as 
the very wrongdoer. "Ceux qui subissent le mal sont 
aussi criminels que ceux qui le font." Upon the poet, 
above all, it seemed to him incumbent to find words for 
thought, and to vivify the words by action. It is not 
enough to write ornamental comments upon the history 
of one's time. The poet must be part of the very being 
of his time, must fight to make his ideas realize them- 
selves in action. "The elite of the intellect constitutes 


an aristocracy which would fain replace the aristocracy 
of birth. But the aristocracy of intellect is apt to forget 
that the aristocracy of birth won its privileges with blood. 
For hundreds of years men have listened to the words of 
wisdom, but seldom have they seen a sage offering him- 
self up to the sacrifice. If we would inspire others with 
faith we must show that our own faith is real. Mere 
words do not suffice." Fame is a sword as well as a 
laurel crown. Faith imposes obligations. One who had 
made Jean Christophe utter the gospel of a free con- 
science, could not, when the world had fashioned his 
cross, play the part of Peter denying the Lord. He 
must take up his apostolate, be ready should need arise 
to face martyrdom. Thus, while almost all the artists 
of the day, in their "passion d'abdiquer," in their mad 
desire to shout with the crowd, were not merely extolling 
force and victory as the masters of the hour, but were 
actually maintaining that force was the very meaning of 
civilization, that victory was the vital energy of the 
world, Holland stood forth against them all, proclaiming 
the might of the incorruptible conscience. "Force is 
always hateful to me," wrote Holland to Jouve in this 
decisive hour. "If the world cannot get on without 
force, it still behooves me to refrain from making terms 
with force. I must uphold an opposing principle, one 
which will invalidate the principle of force. Each must 
play his own part; each must obey his own inward moni- 
tor." He did not fail to recognize the titanic nature of 
the struggle into which he was entering, but the words 


he had written in youth still resounded in his memory. 
"Our first duty is to be great, and to defend greatness 
on earth." 

Just as in those earlier days, when he had wished by 
means of his dramas to restore faith to his nation, when 
he had set up the images of the heroes as examples to 
a petty time, when throughout a decade of quiet effort 
he had summoned the people towards love and freedom, 
so now, RoUand set to work alone. He had no party, no 
newspaper, no influence. He had nothing but his pas- 
sionate enthusiasm, and that indomitable courage to 
which the forlorn hope makes an irresistible appeal. 
Alone he began his onslaught upon the illusions of the 
multitude, when the European conscience, hunted with 
scorn and hatred from all countries and all hearts, had 
taken sanctuary in his heart. 



THE Struggle had to be waged by means of news- 
paper articles. Since Holland was attacking 
prevalent falsehoods, and their public expres- 
sion in the form of lying phrases, he had perforce to fight 
them upon their own ground. But the vigor of his ideas, 
the breath of freedom they conveyed, and the authority 
of the author's name, made of these articles, manifestoes 
which spoke to the whole of Europe and aroused a 
spiritual conflagration. Like electric sparks given off 
from invisible wires, their energy was liberated in all 
directions, leading here to terrible explosions of hatred, 
throwing there a brilliant light into the depths of con- 
science, in every case producing cordial excitement in 
its contrasted forms of indignation and enthusiasm. 
Never before, perhaps, did newspaper articles exercise 
so stupendous an influence, at once inflammatory and 
purifying, as was exercised by these two dozen appeals 
and manifestoes issued in a time of enslavement and 
confusion by a lonely man whose spirit was free and 
whose intellect remained unclouded. 

From the artistic point of view the essays naturally 
suff"er by comparison with Rolland's other writings, care- 



fully considered and fully elaborated. Addressed to 
the widest possible public, but simultaneously hampered 
by consideration for the censorship (seeing that to Hol- 
land it was all important that the articles published in 
the ^'Journal de Geneve^ should be reproduced in the 
French press), the ideas had to be presented with 
meticulous care and yet at the same time to be hastily 
produced. We find in these writings marvelous and 
ever-memorable cries of suffering, sublime passages of 
indignation and appeal. But they are a discharge of 
passion, so that their stylistic merits vary much. Often, 
too, they relate to casual incidents. Their essential 
value lies in their ethical bearing, and here they are of 
incomparable merit. In relation to Holland's previous 
work we find that they display, as it were, a new rhythm. 
They are characterized by the emotion of one who is 
aware that he is addressing an audience of many millions. 
The author was no longer speaking as an isolated indi- 
vidual. For the first time he felt himself to be the 
public advocate of the invisible Europe. 

Will those of a later generation, to whom the essays 
have been made available in the volumes Au-dessus de 
la melee and Les precurseurs, be able to understand 
what they signified to the contemporary world at the 
time of their publication in the newspapers? The mag- 
nitude of a force cannot be measured without taking the 
resistance into account; the significance of an action 
cannot be understood without reckoning up the sacrifices 
it has entailed. To understand the ethical import, the 
heroic character, of these manifestoes, we must recall to 


mind the frenzy of the opening year of the war, the spirit- 
ual infection which was devastating Europe, turning the 
whole continent jnto a madhouse. It has already become 
,.^___J3lSeiilt to realize the mental state of those days. We 
have to remember that maxims which now seem com- 
monplace, as for instance the contention that we must 
not hold all the individuals of a nation responsible for 
the outbreak of a war, were then positively criminal, 
that to utter them was a punishable offense. We must 
remember that Au-dessus de la melee, whose trend al- 
ready seems to us a matter of course, was officially 
denounced, that its author was ostracised, and that for 
a considerable period the circulation of the essays was 
forbidden in France, while numerous pamphlets at- 
tacking them secured wide circulation. In connec- 
tion with these articles we must always evoke the atmos- 
pheric environment, must remember the silence of 
their appeal amid a vasty spiritual silence. To-day, 
readers are apt to think that Holland merely uttered self- ' 
evident truths, so that we recall Schopenhauer's mem- 
orable saying: "On earth, truth is allotted no more than 
a brief triumph between two long epochs, in one of which 
it is scouted as paradoxical, while in the other it is 
despised as commonplace." To-day, for the moment at 
any rate, we may have entered into a period, when many 
of Holland's utterances are accounted commonplace be- 
cause, since he wrote, they have become the small change 
of thousands of other writers. Yet there was a day when 
each of these words seemed to cut like a whip-lash. The 
excitement they aroused gives us the historic measure 


of the need that they should be spoken. The wrath of 
Rolland's opponents, of which the only remaining record 
is a pile of pamphlets, bears witness to the heroism of 
him who was the first to take his stand "above the battle." 
Let us not forget that it was then the crime of crimes, "de 
dire ce qui est juste et humain." Men were still so 
drunken with the fumes of the first bloodshed that they 
would have been fain, as Holland himself has phrased it, 
"to crucify Christ once again should he have risen; to 
crucify him for saying, Love one another." 



ON September 22, 1914, the essay Au-dessus de 
la melee was published in "Le Journal de 
Geneve.'* After the preliminary skirmish 
with Gerhart Hauptmann, came this declaration of war 
against hatred, this foundation stone of the invisible Eu- 
ropean church. The title, "Above the Battle," has be- 
come at once a watchword and a term of abuse; but 
amid the discordant quarrels of the factions, the essay 
was the first utterance to sound a clear note of imper- 
turbable justice, bringing solace to thousands. 

It is animated by a strange and tragical emotion, 
resonant of the hour when countless myriads were bleed- 
ing and dying, and among them many of Holland's 
intimate friends. It is the outpouring of a riven heart, 
the heart of one who would fain move others, breathing 
as it does the heroic determination to try conclusions with 
a world that has fallen a prey to madness. It opens with 
an ode to the youthful fighters. "0 young men that shed 
your blood for the thirsty earth with so generous a joy! 
heroism of the world! What a harvest for destruction 
to reap under this splendid summer sun! Young men of 
all nations, brought into conflict by a common ideal, . . . 
all of you, marching to your deaths, are dear to me . . . 



Those years of skepticism and gay frivolity in which we 
in France grew up are avenged in you . . . Conquerors 
or conquered, quick or dead, rejoice!" But after this 
ode to the faithful, to those who believe themselves to 
be discharging their highest duty, Holland turns to con- 
sider the intellectual leaders of the nations, and apostro- 
phises them thus : "For what are you squandering them, 
these living riches, these treasures of heroism entrusted 
to your hands? What ideal have you held up to the 
devotion of these youths so eager to sacrifice themselves? 
Mutual slaughter! A European war!" He accuses the 
leaders of taking cowardly refuge behind an idol they 
term fate. Those who understood their responsibilities 
so ill that they failed to prevent the war, inflame and 
poison it now that it has begun. A terrible picture. In 
all countries, everything becomes involved in the torrent; 
among all peoples, there is the same ecstasy for that 
which is destroying them. "For it is not racial passion 
alone which is hurling millions of men blindly one 
against another . . . All the forces of the spirit, of rea- 
son, of faith, of poetry, and of science, all have placed 
themselves at the disposal of 4;he armies in every state. 
There is not one among the leaders of thought in each 
country who does not proclaim that the cause of his 
people is the cause of God, the cause of liberty and of 
human progress." He mockingly alludes to the pre- 
posterous duels between philosophers and men of sci- 
ence; and to the failure of what professed to be the two 
great internationalist forces of the age, Christianity and 
socialism, to stand aloof from the fray. "It would seem, 

Romain Rollaiul at the time of writing Above the Battle 



then, that love of our country can flourish only through 
the hatred of other countries and the massacre of those 
who sacrifice themselves in defense of them. There is 
in this theory a ferocious absurdity, a Neronian dilet- 
tantism, which revolts me to the very depths of my being. 
No ! Love of my country does not demand that I should 
hate and slay those noble and faithful souls who also 
love theirs, but rather that I should honor them and seek 
to unite with them for our common good." After some 
further discussion of the attitude of Christians and of 
socialists towards the war, he continues: "There was no 
reason for war between the western nations; French, , . 

English, and German, we are all brothers and do not hate *> ^ '^^ '^'^ 
one another. The war-preaching press is envenomed 
by a minority, a minority vitally interested in the diffu- 
sion of hatred; but our peoples, I know, ask for peace 
and liberty, and for that alone." It was a scandal, there- 
fore, that at the outbreak of the war the intellectual lead- 
ers should have allowed the purity of their thought to be 
besmirched. It was monstrous that intelligence should 
permit itself to be enslaved by the passions of a puerile 
and absurd policy of race. Never should we forget, in I 
the war now being waged, the essential unity of all our 
fatherlands. "Humanity is a symphony of great col- 
lective souls. He who cannot understand it and love it 
until he has destroyed a part of its elements, is a bar- 
barian . . . For the finer spirits of Europe, there are 
two dwelling places: our earthly fatherland, and the 
City of God. Of the one we are the guests, of the other 
the builders ... It is our duty to build the walls of this 


city ever nigner and stronger, that it may aominate the 
injustice and the hatred of the nations. Then shall we 
have a refuge wherein the brotherly and free spirits from 
out all the world may assemble." This faith in a lofty 
ideal soars like a sea-mew over the ocean of blood. 
Holland is well aware how little hope there is that his 
words can make themselves audible above the clamor of 
thirty million warriors. "I know that such thoughts 
have little chance of being heard to-day. I do not speak 
to convince. I speak only to solace my conscience. 
And I know that at the same time I shall solace the hearts 
of thousands of others who, in all lands, cannot and dare 
not speak for themselves." As ever, he is on the side 
of the weak, on the side of the minority. His voice 
grows stronger, for he knows that he is speaking for the 
silent multitude. 



THE essay Au-dessus de la melee was the first 
stroke of the woodman's axe in the overgrown 
forest of hatred ; thereupon, a roaring echo thun- 
dered from all sides, reverberating reluctantly in the 
newspapers. Undismayed, Holland resolutely continued 
his work. He wished to cut a clearing into which a few 
sunbeams of reason might shine through the gloomy and 
suffocating atmosphere. His next essays aimed at 
illuminating an open space of such a character. Espe- 
cially notable were Inter Arma Caritas (October 30, 
1914) ; Les idoles (December 4, 1914) ; Notre prochain 
Vennemi (March 15, 1915) ; Le meutre des elites (June 
14, 1915). These were attempts to give a voice to the 
silent. "Let us help the victims! It is true that we can- 
not do very much. In the everlasting struggle between 
good and evil, the balance is unequal. We require a 
century for the upbuilding of that which a day destroys. 
Nevertheless, the frenzy lasts no more than a day, and 
the patient labor of reconstruction is our daily bread. 
This work goes on even during an hour when the world 
is perishing around us." 

The poet had at length come to understand his task. 



It is useless to attack the war directly. Reason can ef- 
fect nothing against the elemental forces. But he re- 
gards it as his predestined duty to combat throughout the 
war everything that the passions of men lead them to 
undertake for the deliberate increase of horror, to combat 
the spiritual poison of the war. The most atrocious 
feature of the present struggle, one which distinguishes 
it from all previous wars, is this deliberate poisoning. 
That which in earlier days was accepted with simple 
resignation as a disastrous visitation like the plague, was 
now presented in a heroic light, as a sign of "the gran- 
deur of the age." An ethic of force, an ethic of destruc- 
tion, was being preached. The mass struggle of the na- 
tions was being purposely inflamed to become the mass 
hatred of individuals. Rolland, therefore, was not, as 
many have supposed, attacking the war; he was attack- 
ing the ideology of the war, the artificial idolization of 
brutality. As far as the individual was concerned, he 
attacked the readiness to accept a collective morality 
constructed solely for the duration of the war; he at- 
tacked the surrender of conscience in face of the pre- 
vailing universalization of falsehood; he attacked the 
suspension of inner freedom which was advocated until 
the war should be over. 

His words, therefore, are not directed against the 
masses, not against the peoples. These know not what 
they do; they are deceived; they are dumb driven cattle. 
The diffusion of lying has made it easy for them to hate. 
"II est si commode de ha'ir sans comprendre." The 
fault lies with the inciters, with the manufacturers of lies, 


with the intellectuals. They are guilty, seven times 
guilty, because, thanks to their education and experience, 
they cannot fail to know the truth which nevertheless they 
repudiate; because from weakness, and in many cases 
from calculation, they have surrendered to the current 
of uninstructed opinion, instead of using their authority 
to deflect this current into better channels. Of set pur- 
pose, instead of defending the ideals they formerly es- : 
poused, the ideals of humanity and international unity, 
they have revived the ideas of the Spartans and of the 
Homeric heroes, which have as little place in our time 
as have spears and plate-armor in these days of machine- 
gun warfare. Heretofore, to the great spirits of all time, 
hatred has seemed a base and contemptible accompani- 
ment of war. The thoughtful among the non-combatants 
•put it away from them with loathing; the warriors re- 
jected the sentiment upon grounds of chivalry. Now, 
hatred is not merely supported with all the arguments of 
logic, science, and poesy; but is actually, in defiance of 
gospel teaching, raised to a place among the moral duties, 
so that every one who resists the feeling of collective • 
hatred is branded as a traitor. Against these enemies of 
the free spirit, Holland takes up his parable: "Not only 
have they done nothing to lessen reciprocal misunder- 
standing; not only have they done nothing to limit the 
diffusion of hate; on the contrary, with few exceptions, 
they have done everything in their power to make hatred 
more widespread and more venomous. In large part, 
this war is their war. By their murderous ideologies 
they have led thousands astray. With criminal self- 
confidence, unteachable in their arrogance, they have 


driven millions to death, sacrificing their fellows to the 
phantoms which they, the intellectuals, have created." 
The persons to whom blame attaches are those who know, 
or who might have known; but who, from sloth, coward- 
ice, or weakness, from desire for fame or for some other 
personal advantage, have given themselves over to lying. 
The hatred breathed by the intellectuals was a false- 
hood. Had it been a truth, had it been a genuine pas- 
sion, those who were inspired with this feeling would 
have ceased talking and would themselves have taken up 
arms. Most people are moved either by hatred or by 
love, not by abstract ideas. For this reason, the attempt 
to sow dissension among millions of unknown individ- 
uals, the attempt to "perpetuate" hatred, was a crime 
against the spirit rather than against the flesh. It was a 
deliberate falsification to include leaders and led, drivers 
and driven, in a single category; to generalize Germany 
as an integral object for hatred. We must join one fel- 
lowship or the other, that of the truthtellers or that of the 
liars, that of the men of conscience or that of the men 
of phrase. Just as in Jean Christophe, Holland, in or- 
der to show forth the universally human fellowship, had 
distinguished between the true France and the false, be- 
tween the old Germany and the new; so now in wartime 
did he draw attention to the ominous resemblance be- 
tween the war fanatics in both camps, and to the heroic 
isolation of those who were above the battle in all the 
^^^ belligerent lands. Thus did he endeavor to fulfill Tol- 
stoi's dictum, that it is the function of the imaginative 
writer to strengthen the ties that bind men together. In 


Rolland's comedy Liluli, the "cerveaux enchaines," 
dressed in various national uniforms, dance the same 
Indian war-dance under the lash of Patriotism, the 
negro slave-driver. There is a terrible resemblance be- 
tween the German professors and those of the Sorbonne. 
All of them turn the same logical somersaults; all join 
in the same chorus of hate. 

But the fellowship to which Rolland wishes to draw 
our attention, is the fellowship of solace. It is true that 
the humanizing forces are not so well organized as the 
forces of destruction. Free opinion is gagged, whereas 
falsehood bellows through the megaphones of the press. 
Truth has to be sought out with painful labor, for the 
state makes it its business to hide truth. Nevertheless, 
those who search perseveringly can discover truth among 
all nations and among all races. In these essays, Rol- 
land gives many examples, drawn equally from French 
and from German sources, showing that even in the 
trenches, nay, that especially in the trenches, thousands 
upon thousands are animated with brotherly feelings. 
He publishes letters from German soldiers, side by side 
with letters from French soldiers, all couched in the same 
phraseology of human friendliness. He tells of the 
women's organizations for helping the enemy, and shows 
that amid the cruelty of arms the same lovingkindness is 
displayed on both sides. He publishes poems from 
either camp, poems which exhale a common sentiment. 
Just as in his Vie des hommes illustres he had wished to 
show the sufferers of the world that they were not alone, 
but that the greatest minds of all epochs were with them, 


so now does he attempt to convince those who amid the 
general madness are apt to regard themselves as out- 
casts because they do not share the fire and fury of the 
newspapers and the professors, that they have everywhere 
silent brothers of the spirit. Once more, as of old, he 
wishes to unite the invisible community of the free. "I 
feel the same joy when I find the fragile and valiant flow- 
ers of human pity piercing the icy crust of hatred that 
covers Europe, as we feel in these chilly March days 
when we see the first flowers appear above the soil. 
They show that the warmth of life persists below the sur- 
face, and that soon nothing will prevent its rising again," 
Undismayed he continues on his "humble pelerinage," 
endeavoring "to discover, beneath the ruins, the hearts of 
:1 those who have remained faithful to the old ideal of 
i] human brotherhood. What a melancholy joy it is to 
come to their aid." For the sake of this consolation, for 
the sake of this hope, he gives a new significance even to 
war, which he has hated and dreaded from early child- 
hood. "To war we owe one painful benefit, in that it 
has served to bring together those of all nations who 
refuse to share the prevailing sentiments of national 
hatred. It has steeled their energies, has inspired them 
with an indefatigable will. How mistaken are those who 
imagine that the ideas of human brotherhood have been 
stifled . . . Not for a moment do I doubt the coming 
unity of the European fellowship. That unity will be 
realized. The war is but its baptism of blood." 

Thus does the good Samaritan, the healer of souls, en- 
deavor to bring to the despairing that hope which is the 


bread of life. Perchance Rolland speaks with a confi- 
dence that runs somewhat in advance of his innermost 
convictions. But he only who realized the intense yearn- 
ings of the innumerable persons who at that date were 
imprisoned in their respective fatherlands, barred in the 
cages of the censorships, he alone can realize the value 
to such poor captives of Holland's manifestoes of faith, 
words free from hatred, bringing at length a message of 



FROM the first, Rolland knew perfectly well that 
in a time when party feeling runs high, no task 
can be more ungrateful than that of one who 
advocates impartiality. "The combatants are to-day 
united in one thing only, in their hatred for those who 
refuse to join in any hymn of hate. Whoever does not 
share the common delirium, is suspect. And nowadays, 
when justice cannot spare the time for thorough investiga- 
tion, every suspect is considered tantamount to a traitor. 
He who undertakes in wartime to defend peace on earth, 
must realize that he is staking his faith, his name, his 
tranquillity, his repute, and even his friendships. But 
of what value would be a conviction on behalf of which 
a man would take no risks?" Rolland was likewise 
aware that the most dangerous of all positions is that be- 
tween the fronts, but this certainty of danger was but 
a tonic to his conscience. "If it be really needful, as 
the proverb assures us, to prepare for war in time of 
peace, it is no less needful to prepare for peace in time 
of war. In my view, the latter role is assigned to those 
who stand outside the struggle, and whose mental life 
has brought them into unusually close contact with the 
world-all. I speak of the members of that little lay 



church, of those who have been exceptionally well able 
to maintain their faith in the unity of human thought, 
of those for whom all men are sons of the same father. 
If it should chance that we are reviled for holding this 
conviction, the reviling is in liuth an honor to us, and 
we may be satisfied to know that we shall earn the ap- 
probation of posterity." 

It is plain that Rolland is forearmed against opposi- 
tion. Nevertheless, the fierceness of the onslaughts ex- 
ceeded all expectation. The first rumblings of the storm 
came from Germany. The passage in the Letter to Ger- 
hart Hauptmann, "are you the sons of Goethe or of 
Attila," and similar utterances, aroused angry echoes. 
A dozen or so professors and scribblers hastened to 
"chastise" French arrogance. In the columns of "Z)ie 
Deutsche Rundschau," a narrow-minded pangerman dis- 
closed the great secret that under the mask of neutrality 
Jean Christophe had been a most dangerous French at- 
tack upon the German spirit. 

French champions were no less eager to enter the lists 
as soon as the publication of the essay Au-dessus de la 
melee was reported. Difficult as it seems to realize the 
fact to-day, the French newspapers were forbidden to 
reprint this manifesto, but fragments became known to 
the public in the attacks wherein Rolland was pilloried 
as an antipatriot. Professors at the Sorbonne and his- 
torians of renown did not shrink from leveling such ac- 
cusations. Soon the campaign was systematized. 
Newspaper articles were followed by pamphlets, and 
ultimately by a large volume from the pen of a carpet 


hero. This book was furnished with a thousand proofs, 
with photographs, and quotations; it was a complet dos- 
sier, avowedly intended to supply materials for a prose- 
cution. There was no lack of the basest calumnies. It 
was asserted that since the beginning of the war Holland 
had joined the German society "Neues Vaterland"; that 
he was a contributor to German newspapers; that his 
American publisher wns a German agent. In one pam- 
phlet he was accused of deliberately falsifying dates. 
Yet more incriminatory charges could be read between 
the lines. With the exception of a few newspapers of 
advanced tendencies and comparatively small circula- 
tion, the whole of the French press combined to boycott 
Rolland. Not one of the Parisian journals ventured to 
publish a reply to the charges. A professor triumph- 
antly announced: "Get auteur ne se lit plus en 
France." His former associates withdrew in alarm 
from the tainted member of the flock. One of his old- 
est friends, the "ami de la premiere heure," to whom 
Rolland had dedicated an earlier work, deserted at this 
decisive hour, and canceled the publication of a book 
upon Rolland which was already in type. The French 
government likewise began to watch Rolland closely, 
dispatching agents to collect "materials." A number 
of "defeatist" trails were obviously aimed in part at 
Rolland, whose essay was publicly stigmatized as 
"abominable" by Lieutenant Mornet, the tiger of these 
prosecutions. Nothing but the authority of his name, 
the inviolability of his public life, and the fact that he 
was a lonely fighter (this making it impossible to show 


that he had any suspect associations), frustrated the 
well-prepared plan to put Holland in the dock among 
adventurers and petty spies. 

All this lunacy is incomprehensible unless we recon- 
struct the forcing-house atmo phere of that year. It is 
difficult to-day, even from a study of all the pamphlets 
and books bearing on the question, to grasp the way in 
which Holland's fellow-countrymen had become con- 
vinced that he was an antipatriot. From his own writ- 
ings, it is impossible for the most fanciful brain to ex- 
tract the ingredients for a "cas Holland." From a study 
of his own writings alone it is impossible to understand 
the frenzy felt by all the intellectuals of France towards 
this lonely exile, who tranquilly and with a full sense of 
responsibility continued to develop his ideas. i 

In the eyes of the patriots, Holland's first crime was 
that he openly discussed the moral problems of the war. 
"On ne discute pas la patrie." The first axiom of war 
ethics is that those who cannot or will not shout with 
the crowd must hold their peace. Soldiers must never be 
taught to think; they must only be incited to hate. A lie 
which promotes enthusiasm is worth more in wartime than 
the best of truths. In imitation of the principles of the 
Catholic church, reflection, doubt, is deemed a crime 
against the infallible dogma of the fatherland. It was 
enough that Holland should wish to turn things over in 
his mind, instead of unquestioningly affirming the cur- 
rent political theses. Thereby he abandoned the "atti- 
tude frangaise"; thereby he was stamped as "neutre." 
In those days "neutre" was a good rime to "traitre." 


/ Rolland's second crime was that he desired to be just 
/ to all mankind, that he continued to regard the enemy as 
human beings, that among them he distinguished between 
guilty and not guilty, that he had as much compassion 
for German sufferers as for French, that he did not hesi- 
tate to refer to the Germans as brothers. The dogma of 
patriotism prescribed that for the duration of the war the 
feelings of humanitarianism should be stifled. Jus- 
tice should be put away on the top shelf, to keep com- 
pany there, until victory had been secured, with the 
divine command, Thou shalt not kill. One of the pam- 
phlets against Holland bears as its motto, "Pendant une 
guerre tout ce qu'on donne de I'amour a I'humanite, on 
le vole a la patrie" — though it must be observed that 
from the outlook of those who share Rolland's views, the 
order of the terms might well be inverted. 

The third crime, the offense which seemed most un- 
pardonable of all, and the one most dangerous to the 
state, was that Rolland refused to regard a military vic- 
tory as likely to furnish the elixir of morality, to pro- 
mote spiritual regeneration, to bring justice upon earth. 
Rolland's sin lay in holding that a just and bloodless 
peace, a complete reconciliation, a fraternal union of 
the European nations, would be more fruitful of blessing 
than an enforced peace, which could only sow the 
dragon's teeth of hatred and of new wars. In France 
at this date, those who wished to fight the war to a finish, 
to fight until the enemy had been utterly crushed, coined 
the term "defeatist" for those who desired peace to be 
based upon a reasonable understanding. Thus was 


paralleled the German terminology, which spoke of 
"Flaumachem" (slackers) and of "Schmachfriede" 
(shameful peace). RoUand, who had devoted the 
whole of his life to the elucidation of moral laws higher 
than those of force, was stigmatized as one who would 
poison the morale of the armies, as "I'initiateur du 
defaitisme." To the militarists, he seemed to be the 
last representative of "dying Renanism," to be the cen- 
ter of a moral power, and for this reason they en- 
deavored to represent his ideas as nonsensical, to depict 
him as a Frenchman who desired the defeat of France. 
Yet his words stood unchallenged: "I wish France to 
be loved. I wish France to be victorious, not through 
force; not solely through right (even that would be too 
harsh) ; but through the superiority of a great heart. I 
wish that France were strong enough to fight without 
hatred; strong enough to regard even those whom she 
must strike down, as her brothers, as erring brothers, to 
whom she must extend her fullest sympathy as soon as 
she has put it beyond their power to injure her." Rol- 
land made no attempt to answer even the most calumni- 
ous of attacks. He quietly let the invectives pass, know- 
ing that the thought which he felt himself commissioned 
to announce, was inviolable and imperishable. Never i 
had he fought men, but only ideas. The hostile ideas, ' 
in this case, had long since been answered by the figures 
of his own creation. They had been answered by Oli- j 
vier, the free Frenchman who hated hatred; by Faber, 
the Girondist, to whom conscience stood higher than the 
arguments of the patriots; by Adam Lux, who compas- 



sionately asked his fanatical opponent, "N'es tu pas 
fatigue de ta haine"; by Teulier, and by all the great 
characters through whom during more than two decades 
he had been giving expression to his outlook upon the 
struggle of the day. He was unperturbed at standing 
alone against almost the entire nation. He recalled 
Chamfort's saying, "There are times when public opinion 
is the worst of all possible opinions." The immeasur- 
able wrath, the hysterical frenzy of his opponents, con- 
firmed his conviction that he was right, for he felt that 
their clamor for force betrayed their sense of the weak- 
ness of their own arguments. Smilingly he contem- 
plated their artificially inflamed anger, addressing them 
in tlie words of his own Clerambault: "You say that 
yours is the better way? The only good way? Very 
well, take your own path, and leave me to take mine. 
I make no attempt to compel you to follow me. I 
merely show you which way I am going. What are you 
so excited about? Perhaps at the bottom of your hearts 
you are afraid that my way is the right one?" 



AS soon as he had uttered his first words, a void 
formed round this brave man. As Ver- 
haeren finely phrased it, he positively loved to 
encounter danger, whereas most people shun danger. 
His oldest friends, those who had known his writings 
and his character from youth upwards, left him in the 
lurch; prudent folk quietly turned their backs on him; 
newspaper editors and publishers refused him hospi- 
tality. For the moment, Holland seemed to be alone. 
But, as he had written in Jean Christophe, "A great soul udAJ^ 

is never alone. Abandoned by friends, such a one 
makes new friends, and surrounds himself with a circle 
of that aff'ection of which he is himself full." 

Necessity, the touchstone of conscience, had deprived 
him of friends, but had also brought him friends. It is 
true that their voices were hardly audible amid the 
clangor of the opponents. The war-makers had control 
of all the channels of publicity. They roared hatred 
through the megaphones of the press. Friends could do 
no more than give expression to a few cautious words in 
such petty periodicals as could slip through the meshes 
of the censorship. Enemies formed a compact mass, 
flowing to the attack in a huge wave (whose waters were 



ultimately to be dispersed in the morass of oblivion) ; 
his friends crystallized slowly and secretly around his 
ideas, but they were steadfast. His enemies were a 
regiment advancing fiercely to the attack at the word of 
command; his friends were a fellowship, working tran- 
quilly, and united only through love. 

The friends in Paris had the hardest task. It was 
barely possible for them to communicate with him 
openly. Half of their letters to him and half of his 
replies were lost on the frontier. As from a beleaguered 
fortress, they hailed the liberator, the man who was 
freely proclaiming to the world the ideals which they 
were forbidden to utter. Their only possible way of 
defending their ideas was to defend the man. In Hol- 
land's own fatherland, Amedee Dunois, Femand Des- 
pres, Georges Pioch, Renaitour, Rouanet, Jacques Mes- 
nil, Gaston Thiesson, Marcel Martinet, and Severine, 
boldly championed him against calumny. A valiant 
woman, Marcelle Capy, raised the standard, naming 
her book Une voix de femme dans la melee. Separ- 
ated from him by the blood-stained sea, they looked to- 
wards him as towards a distant lighthouse upon the rock, 
and showed their brothers the signal of hope. 

In Geneva there formed round him a group of young 
writers, disciples and friends, winning strength from 
his strength. P. J. Jouve author of Vous etes des 
hommes and Danse des morts, glowing with anger and 
with love of goodness, suffering intensely at witnessing 
the injustice of the world, Olivier redivivus, gave expres- 
sion in his poems to his hatred for force. Rene Arcos, 


who like Jouve had realized all the horror of war and 
who hated war no less intensely, had a clearer compre- 
hension of the dramatic moment, was more thoughtful 
than Jouve, but equally simple and kindhearted. Arcos 
extolled the European ideal; Charles Baudouin the ideal 
of eternal goodness. Franz Masereel, the Belgian ar- 
tist, developed his humanist plaint in a series of mag- 
nificent woodcuts. Guilbeaux, zealot for the social rev- 
olution, ever ready to fight like a gamecock against au- 
thority, founded his monthly review "demain," which 
was a faithful representative of the European spirit for 
a time, until it succumbed because of its passion for 
the Russian revolution. Charles Baudouin founded the 
monthly review, "Le Carmel," providing a city of refuge 
for the persecuted European spirit, and a platform upon 
which the poets and imaginative writers of all lands 
could assemble under the banner of humanity. Jean 
Debrit in "La Feuille" combated the partisanship of the 
Latin Swiss press and attacked the war. Claude de 
Maguet founded "Les Tablettes," which, through the 
boldness of its contributors and through the drawings of 
Masereel, became the most vigorous periodical in Swit- 
zerland. A little oasis of independence came into ex- 
istence, and hither the breezes from all quarters wafted 
greetings from the distance. Here alone was it pos- 
sible to breathe a European air. 

The most remarkable feature of this circle was that, 
thanks to Rolland, enemy brethren were not excluded 
from spiritual fellowship. Whereas everywhere else 
people were infected with the hysteria of mass hatred 


or were terrified lest they should expose themselves to 
suspicion, and therefore avoided their sometime inti- 
mates of enemy countries like the pestilence should they 
chance to meet them in the streets of some neutral city, 
at a time when relatives were afraid to exchange letters 
of enquiry regarding the life or death of those of their 
own blood, Holland would not for a moment deny his 
German friends. Never, indeed, had he shown more 
love to those among them who remained faithful, at an 
epoch when to love them was dangerous. He made 
himself known to them in public, and wrote to them 
freely. His words concerning these friendships will 
never be forgotten: "Yes, I have German friends; just 
as I have French, English, and Italian friends; just as I 
have friends among the members of every race. They 
are my wealth, which I am proud of, and which I seek 
to preserve. If a man has been so fortunate as to en- 
counter loyal souls, persons with whom he can share 
his most intimate thoughts, persons with whom he is con- 
nected by brotherly ties, these ties are sacred, and the 
hour of trial is the last of hours in which they should 
be rent asunder. How cowardly would be the refusal 
to recognize these friends, in deference to the impudent 
demand of a public opinion which has no rights over our 
feelings. . . . How painful, how tragical, these friend- 
ships are at such a moment, the letters will show when 
they are published. But it is precisely by means of 
such friendships that we can defend ourselves against 
hatred, more murderous than war, for it poisons the 


wounds of war, and harms the hater equally with the ob- 
ject of hate." 

Immeasurable is the debt which friends and num- 
berless unseen companions in adversity owe to Holland 
for his brave and free attitude. He set an example to "I 
all those who, though they shared his sentiments, were I 
isolated in obscurity, and who needed some such point / 
of crystallization before their thoughts and feelings / 
could be consolidated. It was above all for those who / 
were not yet sure of themselves that this archetypal! 
personality provided so splendid a stimulus. Holland's | 
steadfastness put younger men to shame. In his com-* 
pany we were stronger, freer, more genuine, more un- 
prejudiced. Human lovingkindness, transfigured by his 
ardor, radiated like a flame. What bound us together 
was not that we chanced to think alike, but a passionate 
exaltation, which often became a positive fanaticism 
for brotherhood. We foregathered in defiance of pub- 
lic opinion and in defiance of the laws of the belligerent 
states, exchanging confidences without reserve; our com- 
radeship exposed us to all sorts of suspicions; these 
things served but to draw us closer together, and in many 
memorable hours we felt with a veritable intoxication 
the unprecedented quality of our friendship. We were 
but a couple of dozen who thus came together in Switzer- 
land; Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, Austrians, and 
Italians. We few were the only ones among the hun- 
dreds of millions who could look one another in the 
face without hatred, exchanging our innermost thoughts./ 


This little troop was all that then constituted Europe. 
Our unity, a grain of dust in the storm which was rag- 
ing through the world, was perhaps the seed of the 
coming fraternity. How strong, how happy, how grate- 
ful did we often feel. For without Holland, without 
I the genius of his friendship, without the connecting link 
Y I constituted by his disposition, we should never have at- 
/ tained to freedom and security. Each of us loved him 
in a different way, and all of us regarded him with 
equal veneration. To the French, he was the purest 
spiritual expression of their homeland; to us, he was the 
wonderful counterpart of the best in our own world. 
In this circle that formed round Rolland there was the 
1^ sense of fellowship which has always characterized a 
religious community in the making. The hostility be- 
tween our respective nations, and the consciousness of 
danger, fired our friendship to the pitch of exaggera- 
tion; while the example of the bravest and freest man 
we had ever known, brought out all that was best in us. 
When we were near him, we felt ourselves to be in the 
heart of true Europe. Whoever was able to know Hol- 
land's inmost essence, acquired, as in the ancient saga, 
new energy for the wrestle with brute force. 




ALL that Rolland gave in those days to his friends 
and collaborators of the European fellowship, 
all that he gave by his immediate proximity, 
was but a part of his nature. For beyond these per- 
sonal limits, he diffused a consolidating and helpful in- 
fluence. Whoever turned to him with a question, an 
anxiety, a distress, or a suggestion, received an answer. 
In hundreds upon hundreds of letters he spread the mes- 
sage of brotherhood, splendidly fulfilling the vow he 
had made a quarter of a century earlier, at the time 
when Tolstoi's letter had brought him spiritual healing. 
In Rolland's self there had come to life, not only Jean 
Christophe the believer, but likewise Leo Tolstoi, the 
great consoler. 

Unknown to the world, he shouldered a stupendous 
burden during the five years of the war. For whoever 
found himself in revolt against the time and in con- 
flict with the prevailing miasma of falsehood, whoever 
needed counsel in a matter of conscience, whoever wanted 
aid, knew where he could turn for what he sought. Who 
else in Europe inspired such confidence? The unknown 

friends of Jean Christophe, the nameless brothers of 



Olivier, hidden in out-of-the-way parts, knowing no one 
to whom they could whisper their doubts — in whom could 
they better confide than in this man who had first brought 
them tidings of goodness? They sent him requests, sub- 
mitted proposals, disclosed the turmoil of their con- 
sciences. Soldiers wrote to him from the trenches; 
mothers penned letters to him in secret. Many of the 
writers did not venture to give their names, merely wish- 
ing to send a message of sympathy and to inscribe them- 
selves citizens of that invisible "republic of free souls" 
which the author of Jean Christophe had founded amid 
the warring nations. Rolland accepted the infinite labor 
of being the centralizing point and administrator of all 
these distresses and plaints, of being the recipient of all 
these confessions, of being the consoler of a world di- 
vided against itself. Wherever there was a stirring of 
European, of universally human sentiment, Rolland did 
his best to receive and sustain it; he was the crossways 
towards which all these roads converged. At the same 
time he was continuously in communication with leading 
representatives of the European faith, with those of all 
{ lands who had remained loyal to the free spirit. He 
studied the periodicals of the day for messages of rec- 
onciliation. Wherever a man or a work was devoted 
to the reconsolidation of Europe, Rolland's help was 

These hundreds and thousands of letters combine to 
form an ethical achievement such as has not been paral- 
leled by any previous writer. They brought happiness 
to countless solitary souls, strength to the wavering, hope 


to the despairing. Never was the poet's mission more 
nobly fulfilled. Considered as works of art, these let- 
ters, many of which have already been published, are 
among the finest and maturest of Holland's literary crea- 
tions. To bring solace is the most intimate purpose of 
his art. Here, when speaking as man to man he can 
give himself without stint, he displays a rhythmical en- 
ergy, an ardor of lovingkindness, which makes many of 
the letters rank with the loveliest poems of our time. 
The sensitive modesty which often makes him reserved 
in conversation, was no longer a hindrance. The let- 
ters are frank confessions, wherein his free spirit con- 
verses freely with its fellows, disclosing the author's 
goodness, his passionate emotion. That which is so gen- 
erously poured forth for the benefit of unknown cor- 
respondents, is the most intimate essence of his nature. 
Like Colas Breugnon he can say: "Voila mon plus 
beau travail: les ames que j'ai sculptees." 



DURING these years, many people, young for the 
I most part, came to Rolland for advice in mat- 
ters of conscience. They asked whether, see- 
ing that their convictions were opposed to war, they 
ought to refuse military service, in accordance with the 
teaching of Tolstoi, and following the example of the 
conscientious objectors; or whether they should obey 
the biblical precept. Resist not evil. They enquired 
whether they should take an open stand against the in- 
justices committed by their country, or whether they 
should endure in silence. Others besought spiritual 
counsel in their troubles of conscience. All who came 
seemed to imagine that they were coming to one who 
possessed a maxim, a fixed principle concerning conduct 
in relation to the war, a wonder-working moral elixir 
Avhich he could dispense in suitable doses. 

To all these enquiries Rolland returned the same an- 
swer: "Follow your conscience. Seek out your own 
truth and realize it. There is no ready-made truth, no 
rigid formula, which one person can hand over to an- 
other. Each must create truth for himself, according 

to his own model. There is no other rule of moral con- 



duct than that a man should seek his own light and 
should be guided by it even against the world. He ; 
who lays down his arms and accepts imprisonment, does | 
rightly when he follows the inner light, and is not j 
prompted by vanity or by simple imitativeness. He ! 
likewise is right, who takes up arms with no intention ! 
to use them in earnest, who thus cheats the state that he ,' 
may propagate his ideal and save his inner freedom — 
provided always he acts in accordance with his own , 
nature." Rolland declared that the one essential was 
that a man should believe in his own faith. He ap- 
proved the patriot desirous of dying for his country, 
and he approved the anarchist who claimed freedom 
from all governmental authority. There was no other 
maxim than that of faith in one's own faith. The only 
man who did wrong, the only man who acted falsely, 
was he who allowed himself to be swept away by an- 
other's ideals, he who, influenced by the intoxication of 
the crowd, performed actions which conflicted with his 
own nature. A typical instance was that of Ludwig 
Frank, the socialist, the advocate of a Franco-German 
understanding, who, deciding to serve his party instead 
of serving his own ideal, volunteered at the outbreak of 
the war, and died for the ideals of his opponent, for the 
ideals of militarism. 

There is but one truth, such was Holland's answer to 
all. The only truth is that which a man finds within 
himself and recognizes as his very own. Any other 
would-be truth is self-deception. What appears to be jL/f"^ 
egoism, serves humanity. "He who would be useful to 


others, must above all remain free. Even love avails 
nothing, if the one who loves be a slave." Death for the 
fatherland is worthless unless he who sacrifices himself 
believes in his fatherland as in a god. To evade mili- 
tary service is cowardice in one who lacks courage to 
proclaim himself a sanspatrie. There are no true ideas 
other than those which spring from inner experience; 
there are no deeds worth doing other than those which 
are the outcome of fully responsible reflection. He who 
would serve mankind, must not blindly obey the argu- 
ments of a stranger. We cannot regard as a moral act 
anything which is done simply through imitativeness, or 
in consequence of another's persuasion, or (as almost 
universally under modern war stresses) through the sug- 
gestive influence of mass illusion. "A man's first duty 
is to be himself, to remain himself, at the cost of self- 

RoUand did not fail to recognize the difficulty, the 
rarity, of such free acts. He recalled Emerson's saying: 
"Nothing is more rare in any man, than an act of his 
own." But was not the unfree, untrue thinking of the 
masses, the inertia of the mass conscience, the prime 
cause of our present troubles? Would the war between 
European brethren have ever broken out if every towns- 
man, every countryman, every artist, had looked within 
to enquire whether the mines of Morocco and the swamps 
of Albania were truly precious to him? Would there 
have been a war if every one had asked himself whether 
he really hated his brothers across the frontier as ve- 
hemently as the newspapers and the professional poli- 


ticians would have him believe? The herd instinct, the 
pattering of others' arguments, a blind enthusiasm on be- 
half of sentiments that were never truly felt, could alone 
render such a catastrophe possible. Nothing but the 
freedom of the largest possible number of individuals 
can save us from the recurrence of such a tragedy; noth- 
ing can save us but that conscience should be an indi- 
vidual and not a collective affair. That which each one 
recognizes to be true and good for himself, is true and 
good for mankind. "What the world needs before all 
to-day is free souls and strong characters. For to-day 
all paths seem to lead to an accentuation of herd life. 
We see a passive subordination to the church, the in- 
tolerant traditionalism of the fatherlands, socialist 
dreams of a despotic unity . . . Mankind needs men 
who can show that the very persons who love mankind 
can, whenever necessary, declare war against the col- 
lective impiilse." 

Holland therefore refuses to act as authority for 
others. He demands that every one should recognize the 
supreme authority of his own conscience. Truth can- 
not be taught; it must be lived. He who thinks clearly, 
and having done so acts freely, produces conviction, not 
by words but by his nature. Holland has been able to 
help an entire generation, because from the height of 
his loneliness he has shown the world how a man makes 
an idea live for all time by loyalty to that which he has 
recognized as truth. Holland's counsel was not word 
but deed; it was the moral simplicity of his own example. 



ROLLAND'S life was now in touch with the life 
of the whole world. It radiated influence in 
all directions. Yet how lonely was this man 
during the five years of voluntary exile. He dwelt 
apart at Villeneuve by the lake of Geneva. His little 
room resembled that in which he had lived in Paris. 
Here, too, were piles of books and pamphlets; here was 
a plain deal table; here was a piano, the companion of 
his hours of relaxation. His days, and often his nights 
were spent at work. He seldom went for a walk, and 
rarely received a visitor, for his friends were cut off 
from him, and even his parents and his sister could only 
get across the frontier about once a year. But the 
worst feature of this loneliness was that it was loneli- 
ness in a glass house. He was continually spied upon: 
his least words were listened for by eavesdroppers; pro- 
vocative agents sought him out, proclaiming themselves 
revolutionists and sympathizers. Every letter was read 
before it reached him; every word he spoke over the 
telephone was recorded ; every interview was kept under 
obsrvation. Romain Rolland in his glass prison-house 
was the captive of unseen powers. 


Rolland's Mother 


It seems hardly credible to-day that during the last 
two years of the war Romain Rolland, to whose words 
the world is now eager to listen, should have had no 
facility for expressing his ideas in the newspapers, no 
publisher for his books, no possibility of printing any- 
thing beyond an occasional review arti^. ^ilis home- 
land had repudiated him; he was the "fuorus^to" of the 
middle ages, was placed under a ban. The more un- 
mistakably he proclaimed his spiritual independence, 
the less did he find himself regarded as a welcome guest 
in Switzerland. He was surrounded by an atmosphere 
of secret suspicion. By degrees, open attacks had been 
replaced by a more dangerous form of persecution. A 
gloomy silence was established around his name and 
works. His earlier companions had more and more 
withdrawn from him. Many of the new friendships 
had been dissolved, for the younger men in especial were 
devoting their interest to political questions instead of 
to things of the spirit. The more stormy the outside 
world, the more oppressive the stillness of Rolland's 
existence. He had no wife as helpmate. What to him 
was the best of all companionship, the companionship 
of his own writings, was now unattainable, for he had no 
freedom of publication in France. His country was 
closed to him, his place of refuge was beset with a 
hundred eyes. Most homeless among the homeless, he 
lived, as his beloved Beethoven had said, "in the air," 
lived in the realm of the ideal, in invisible Europe. 
Nothing shows better the energy of his living goodness 


than that he was no whit embittered by his experience, 
and that the ordeal has served but to strengthen his faith. 
For this utter solitude among men was a true fellowship 
with mankind. 



THERE was, however, one companion with whom 
Rolland could hold converse daily — his inner 
consciousness. Day by day, from the outbreak 
of the war, Rolland recorded his sentiments, his secret 
thoughts, and the messages he received from afar. His 
very silence was an impassioned conversation with the 
time spirit. During these years, volume was added to 
volume, until by the end of the war, they totaled no less 
than twenty-seven. When he was able to return to 
France, he naturally hesitated to take this confidential 
document to a land where the censors would have a legal 
right to study every detail of his private thoughts. He 
has shown a page here and there to intimate friends, but 
the whole remains as a legacy to posterity, for those who 
will be able to contemplate the tragedy of our days with 
purer and more dispassionate views. 

It is impossible for us to do more than surmise the 
real nature of this document, but our feelings suggest 
to us that it must be a spiritual history of the epoch, and 
one of incomparable value. Rolland's best and freest 
thoughts come to him when he is writing. His most in- 
spired moments are those when he is most personal. 



Consequently, just as the letters taken in their entirety 
may be regarded as artistically superior to the pub- 
lished essays, so beyond question his diary must be a 
human document supplying a most admirable and pure- 
minded commentary upon the war. Only to the chil- 
dren of a later day will it become plain that what Hol- 
land so ably showed in the case of Beethoven and the 
other heroes, applies with equal force to himself. They 
will learn at what a cost of personal disillusionment 
his message of hope and confidence was delivered to 
the world ; they will learn that an idealism which brought 
help to thousands, and which wiseacres have often de- 
rided as trivial and commonplace, sprang from the dark- 
est abysses of suffering and loneliness, and was ren- 
dered possible solely by the heroism of a soul in travail. 
All that has been disclosed to us is the fact of his faith. 
These manuscript volumes contain a record of the ran- 
som with which that faith was purchased, of the pay- 
ments demanded from day to day by the inexorable cred- 
itor we name Life. 



ROLLAND opened his campaign against hatred 
almost immediately after the war began. For 
more than a year he continued to deliver his 
message in opposition to the frenzied screams of ran- 
cor arising from all lands. His efforts proved futile. 
The war-current rose yet higher, the stream being fed 
by new and ever new blood flowing from innocent vic- 
tims. Again and again some additional country be- 
came involved in the carnage. At length, as the clamor 
still grew louder, Rolland paused for a moment to take 
breath. He felt that it would be madness were he to 
continue the attempt to outcry the cries of so many 

After the publication of Au-dessus de la melee, Rol- 
land withdrew from public participation in the contro- 
versies with which the essays had been concerned. He 
had spoken his word; he had sown the wind and had 
reaped the whirlwind. He was neither weary in well- 
doing nor was he weak in faith, but he realized that it 
was useless to speak to a world which would not listen. 
In truth he had lost the sublime illusion with which 
he had been animated at the outset, the belief that men 



desire reason and truth. To his intelligence now grown 
clearer it was plain that men dread truth more than 
anything else in the world. He began, therefore, to 
settle accounts with his own mind by writing a satirical 
romance, and by other imaginative creations, while con- 
tinuing his vast private correspondence. Thus for a 
time he was out of the hurlyburly. But after a year of 
silence, when the crimson flood continued to swell, and 
when falsehood was raging more furiously than ever, he 
felt it his duty to reopen the campaign. "We must re- 
peat the truth again and again," said Goethe to Scher- 
mann, "for the error with which truth has to contend is 
continually being repreached, not by individuals, but by 
the mass." There was so much loneliness in the world 
that it had become necessary to form new ties. Signs 
of discontent and revolt in the various lands were more 
plentiful. More numerous, too, were the brave men 
in active revolt against the fate which was being forced 
on them. RoUand felt that it was incumbent upon 
him to give what support he could to these dispersed 
fighters, and to inspirit them for the struggle. 

In the first essay of the new series. La route en lacets 
qui monte, Rolland explained the position he had reached 
in December, 1916. He wrote: "If I have kept silence 
for a year, it is not because the faith to which I gave 
expression in Above the Battle has been shaken (it 
stands firmer than ever) ; but I am well assured that it 
is useless to speak to him who will not hearken. Facts 
alone will speak, with tragical insistence; facts alone 
will be able to penetrate the thick wall of obstinacy, 


pride, and falsehood with which men have surrounded 
their minds because they do not wish to see the light. 
But we, as between brothers of all the nations; as be- 
tween those who have known how to defend their moral 
freedom, their reason, and their faith in human solidar- 
ity; as between minds which continue to hope amid 
silence, oppression, and grief — we do well to exchange, 
as this year draws to a close, words of affection and 
solace. We must convince one another that during the 
blood-drenched night the light is still burning, that it 
never has been and never will be extinguished. In the 
abyss of suffering into which Europe is plunged, those 
who wield the pen must be careful never 'to add an ad- 
ditional pang to the mass of pangs already endured, 
and (never to pour new reasons for hatred into the 
burning flood of hate. Two ways remain open for those 
rare free spirits which, athwart the mountain of crimes 
and follies, are endeavoring to break a trail for others, 
to find for themselves an egress. Some are courage- 
ously attempting in their respective lands to make 
their fellow-countrymen aware of their own faults. . . . 
My task is different, for it is to remind the hostile breth- 
ren of Europe, not of their worst aspects but of their 
best, to recall to them reasons for hoping that there will 
one day be a wiser and more loving humanity." 

The essays of the new series appeared, for the most 
part, in various minor reviews, seeing that the more in- 
fluential and widely circulated periodicals had long since 
closed their columns to Rolland's pen. When we study 
them as a whole, in the collective volume entitled Les 


DrecurseurSf we realize that they emit a new tone. Anger 
has been replaced by intense compassion, this corre- 
sponding to the change which had taken place at the 
fighting front. In all the armies, during the third year 
of the war, the fanatical impetus of the opening phases 
had vanished, and the men were now animated by a 
tranquil but stubborn sentiment of duty. Rolland is 
perhaps even more impassioned and more revolution- 
ary in his outlook, and yet the essays are characterized 
/ by greater gentleness than of old. What he writes is 
'" no longer at grips with the war, but seems to soar above 
the war. His gaze is fixed upon the distance; his mind 
\ ranges down the centuries in search of like experiences; 
/looking for consolation, he endeavors to discover a 
.'meaning in the meaningless. He recurs to the idea of 
Goethe, that human progress is effected by a spiral as- 
cent. At a higher level men return to a point only a 
little above the old. Evolution and reversion go hand 
i in hand. Thus he attempts to show that even at this 
1 tragical hour we can discern intimations of a better day. 
The essays comprising Les precurseurs no longer at- 
tack adverse opinions and the war. They merely draw 
our attention to the existence in all countries of persons 
who are fighting for a very different ideal, to the exist- 
ence of those heralds of spiritual unity whom Nietzsche 
speaks of as "the pathfinders of the European soul." 
It is too late to hope for anything from the masses. In 
the address Aux peuples assassines, he has nothing but 
pity for the millions, for those who, with no will of 
their own, must be the mute instruments of others' 


aims, for those whose sacrifice has no other meaning 
than the beauty of self-sacrifice. His hope now turns 
exclusively towards the elite, towards the few who have 
remained free. These can bring salvation to the world 
by splendid spiritual imagery wherein all truth is mir- 
rored. For the nonce, indeed, their activities seem un- 
availing, but their labors remain as a permanent record 
of their omnipresence. Rolland provides masterly 
analyses of the work of such contemporary writers; he 
adds silhouettes from earlier times; and he gives a por- 
trait of Tolstoi, the great apostle of the doctrine of hu- * 
man freedom, with an account of the Russian teacher's 
views on war. 

To the same series of writings, although it is not in- ' 
eluded in the volume Les precurseurs, belongs Rolland's 
study dated April 15, 1918, entitled Empidocle d'Agri- 
gente et Vdge de la haine. The great sage of classical 
Greece, to whom Rolland at the age of twenty had dedi- 
cated his first drama, now brings comfort to the man 
of riper years. Rolland shows that two and a half 
millenniums ago a poet writing during an epoch of 
carnage had recognized that the world was characterized 
by "an eternal oscillation from hatred to love, and from / 
love to hatred"; that history invariably witnesses a whole / 
era of struggle and hatred, and that as inevitably as the 
succession of the seasons there ensues a period of hap- 
pier days. With a broad descriptive sweep, he indi- 
cates that from the time of the Sicilian philosopher to 
our own the wise men of all ages have known the 
truth, but have been powerless to cope with the mad- 


ness of the world. Truth, nevertheless, passes down 
forever from hand to hand, being thus imperishable 
and indestructible. 

Even across these years of resignation there shines 
a gentle light of hope, though manifest only to those 
who have eyes to see, only to those who can lift their 
gaze above their own troubles to contemplate the infinite. 



DURING these five years, the ethicist, the phi- 
lanthropist, the European, had been speaking 
to the nations, but the poet had apparently 
been dumb. To many it may seem strange that Rol- 
land's first imaginative work to be written since 1914, 
a work completed before the end of the war, should 
have been a farcical comedy, Liluli. Yet this lightness 
of mood sprang from the uttermost abysses of sorrow. 
Rolland, stricken to the soul when contemplating his 
powerlessness against the insanity of the world, turned 
to irony as a means of abreaction — to employ a term 
introduced by the psychoanalysts. From the pole of 
repressed emotion, the electric spark flashes across into 
the field of laughter. And here, as in all Rolland's 
works, the author's essential purpose is to free himself 
from the tyranny of a sensation. Pain grows to laugh- 
ter, laughter to bitterness, so that in contrapuntal fashion 
the ego may be helped to maintain its equipoise against 
the heaviness of the time. When wrath remains power- 
less, the spirit of mockery is still in being, and can be 
shot like a fire-arrow across the darkening world. 

Liluli is the satirical counterpart to an unwritten trag- 



edy, or rather to the tragedy which Rolland did not need 
to write, since the world was living it. The satire pro- 
duces the impression of having become, in course of 
composition, more bitter, more sarcastic, almost more 
cynical, than the author had originally designed. We 
feel that the time spirit intervened to make it more 
pungent, more stinging, more pitiless. At the culminat- 
ing point, a scene penned in the summer of 1917, we 
behold the two friends who are misled by Liluli, the 
mischievous goddess of illusion (for her name signifies 
'Tillusion"), wrestling to their mutual destruction. In 
these two princes of fable, there recurs Rolland's ear- 
lier symbolism of Olivier and Jean Christophe. France 
and Germany here encounter one another, both hasten- 
ing blindly forward under the leadership of the same 
illusion. The two nations fight on the bridge of recon- 
ciliation which in earlier days they had built across the 
abyss dividing them. In the conditions then prevail- 
ing, so pure a note of lyrical mourning could not be 
sustained. As its creation progressed, the comedy be- 
came more incisive, more pointed, more farcical. Ev- 
erything that Rolland contemplated around him, di- 
plomacy, the intellectuals, the war poets (presented here 
in the ludicrous form of dancing dervishes), those who 
pay lip-service to pacifism, the idols of fraternity, lib- 
erty, God himself, is distorted by his tearful eyes to 
seem grotesques and caricatures. All the madness of 
the world is fiercely limned in an outburst of derisive 
rage. Everything is, as it were, dissolved and decom- 
posed in the acrid menstruum of mockery; and finally 


mockery itself, the spirit of crazy laughter, feels the 
scourge. Polichinelle, the dialectician of the piece, the 
rationalist in cap and bells, is reasonable to excess; his 
laughter is cowardly, being a mask for inaction. When 
he encounters Truth in fetters (Truth being the one fig- 
ure in the comedy presented with touching seriousness 
in all her tragical beauty), Polichinelle, though he loves 
her, does not dare to take his stand by her side. In this 
pitiable world, even the sage is a coward; and in the 
strongest passage of the satire, Holland's own intense 
feeling breaks forth against the one who knows but will 
not bear testimony. "You can laugh," exclaims Truth; 
"you can mock; but you do it furtively like a schoolboy. 
Like your forebears, the great Polichinelles, like Eras- 
mus and Voltaire, the masters of free irony and of 
laughter, you are prudent, prudent in the extreme. 
Your great mouth is closed to hide your smiles. . . . 
Laugh away! Laugh your fill! Split your sides with 
laughter at the lies you catch in your nets; you will 
never catch Truth . . . You will be alone with your 
laughter in the void. Then you will call upon me, but 
I shall not answer, for I shall be gagged . . . When 
will there come the great and victorious laughter, the 
roar of laughter which will set me free?" 

In this comedy we do not find any such great, vic- 
torious, and liberating laughter. Holland's bitterness 
was too profound for that mood to be possible. The 
play breathes nothing but tragical irony, as a defense 
against the intensity of the author's own emotions. Al- 
though the new work maintains the rhythm of Colas 


Breugnon, with its vibrant rhymes, and although in 
Liluli as in Colas Breugnon there is a strain of raillery, 
nevertheless this satire of the war period, a tragi-comedy 
of chaos, contrasts strikingly with the work that deals 
with the happy days of "la douce France." In the 
earlier book, the cheerfulness springs from a full heart, 
but the humor of the later work arises from a heart 
l overfull. In Colas Breugnon we find the geniality, the 
I joviality, of a broad laugh; in Liluli the humor is ironi- 
I cal, bitter, breathing a fierce irreverence for all that ex- 
• ists. A world full of noble dreams and kindly visions 
has been destroyed, and the ruins of this perished world 
are heaped between the old France of Colas Breugnon 
and the new France of Liluli. Vainly does the farce 
move on to madder and ever madder caprioles; vainly 
does the wit leap and o'erleap itself. The sadness of 
the underlying sentiment continually brings us back 
with a thud to the bloodstained earth. There is noth- 
ing else written by him during the war, no impassioned 
appeal, no tragical adjuration, which, to my feeling, be- 
V trays with such intensity Romain Rolland's personal suf- 
I fering throughout those years, as does this comedy with 
its wild bursts of laughter, its expression of the author's 
\ self -enforced mood of bitter irony. 



LILULI, the tragi-comedy, was an outcry, a groan, 
a painful burst of mockery; it was an element- 
ary gesture of reaction against suffering that 
was almost physical. But the author's serious, tranquil, 
and enduring settlement of accounts with the times is his 
novel, Clerambault, Vhistoire d'une conscience libre pen- 
dant la guerre, which was slowly brought to completion 
in the space of four years. It is not autobiography, 
but a transcription of Holland's ideas. Like Jean Chris- 
tophe, it is simultaneously the biography of an imaginary 
personality and a comprehensive picture of the age. 
Matter is here collected that is elsewhere dispersed in 
manifestoes and letters. Artistically, it is the subter- 
ranean link between Rolland's manifold activities. 
Amid the hindrances imposed by his public duties, and 
amid the difficulties deriving from other outward circum- 
stances, the author built the work upwards out of the 
depths of sorrow to the heights of consolation. It was 
not completed until the war was over, when Holland had 
returned to Paris in the summer of 1920. 

Just as little as Jean Christophe can Clerambault 
properly be termed a novel. It is something less than 





a novel, and at the same time a great deal more. It de- 
scribes the development, not of a man, but of an idea. 
As in Jean Christophe, so here, we have a philosophy 
presented, but not as something ready-made, complete, 
a finished datum. In company with a human being, 
we rise stage by stage from error and weakness to- 
wards clarity. In a sense it is a religious book, the 
history of a conversion, of an illumination. It is a 
modern legend of the saints in the form of the life his- 
tory of a simple citizen. In a word, as the sub-title 
phrases it, we have here the story of a conscience. 
The ultimate significance of the book is freedom, the at- 
tainment of self-knowledge, but raised to the heroic plane 
inasmuch as knowledge becomes action. The scene 
is played in the intimate recesses of a man's nature, 
where he is alone with truth. In the new book, there- 
fore, there is no countertype, as Olivier was the counter- 
type to Jean Christophe; nor do we find in Clerambault 
what was in truth the countertype of Jean Christophe, 
external life. Clerambault's countertype, Clerambault's 
antagonist, is himself; is the old, the earlier, the weak 
Clerambault; is the Clerambault with whom the new, 
the knowing, the true man has to wrestle, whom the 
new Clerambault has to overcome. The hero's heroism 
is not displayed, as was that of Jean Christophe, in a 
struggle with the forces of the visible world. Cleram- 
bault's war is waged in the invisible realm of thought. 

At the outset, therefore, Rolland designed to call the 
book "un roman-meditation." It was to have been en- 
titled "L'un contre tous," this being an adaptation of La 


Boetie's title Contrun. The proposed name was, how- 
ever, ultimately abandoned for fear of misunderstand- 
ing. The spiritual character of the new work recalls 
a long-forgotten tradition, the meditations of the old 
French moralists, the sixteenth century stoics who dur- 
ing a time of war-madness endeavored in besieged Paris 
to maintain their intellectual serenity by engaging in 
Platonic dialogues. The war itself, however, was not 
to be the theme, for the free soul does not strive with 
the elements. The author's intention was to discuss the 
spiritual accompaniments of this war, for these to Hol- 
land seemed as tragical as the destruction of millions 
of men. His concern was the destruction of the indi- 
vidual soul in the deluge produced by the overflowing of 
the mass soul. He wished to show how strenuous an 
eff"ort must be made by any one who would escape from 
the tyranny of the herd instinct; to display the hateful 
(enslavement of individuals by the revengeful, jealous, 
and authoritarian mentality of the crowd; to depict the 
terrific efforts which a man must make if he would 
avoid being sucked into the maelstrom of epidemic false- 
hood. He hoped to make it clear that what appears to 
be the simplest thing in tlie world is in reality the 
most difficult of tasks in these epochs of excessive soli- 
darity, namely, for a man to remain what he really is, 
and not to become that which the levelling forces of the 
world, the fatherland, or some other artificial commun- 
ity, would fain make of him. 

Romain Rolland deliberately refrained from casting 
his hero in a heroic mold, the treatment thus differing 


from what he had chosen in the case of Jean Christophe. 
Agenor Clerambault is an inconspicuous figure, a quiet 
fellow of little account, an author of no particular note, 
one of those persons whose literary work succeeds in 
pleasing a complaisant generation, though it has no 
significance for posterity. He has the nebulous idealism 
of mediocre minds; he hymns the praises of perpetual 
peace and international conciliation. His own tepid 
goodness makes him believe that nature is good, is 
man's wellwisher, desiring to lead mankind gently on- 
ward towards a more beautiful future. Life does not 
torment him with problems, and he therefore extols life 
amid the tranquil comforts of his bourgeois existence. 
Blessed with a kindly and somewhat simple-minded wife, 
and with two children, a son and a daughter, he may 
be considered a modem Theocritus wearing the ribbon 
of the Legion of Honor, singing the joyful present and 
the still more joyful future of our ancient cosmos. 

The quiet suburban household is suddenly struck as 
by a thunderbolt with the news of the outbreak of war. 
Clerambault takes the train to Paris; and no sooner is 
he sprinkled with spray from the hot waves of en- 
thusiasm, than all his ideals of international amity and 
perpetual peace vanish into thin air. He returns home 
a fanatic, oozing hate, and steaming with phrases. Un- 
der the influence of the tremendous storm he begins to 
sound his lyre: Theocritus has become Pindar, a war 
poet. Holland gives a marvelously vivid description of 
something every one of us has witnessed, showing how 
Clerambault, like all persons of average nature, really 


takes a delight in horrors, however unwilling he may be 
to admit it even to himself. He is rejuvenated, his life 
seems to move on wings; the enthusiasm of the masses 
stirs the almost extinguished flame of enthusiasm in his 
own breast; he is fired by the national fire; he is physi- 
cally and mentally refreshed by the new atmosphere. 
Like so many other mediocrities, he secures in these 
days his greatest literary triumph. His war sotigs, 
precisely because they give such vigorous expression to 
the sentiments of the man in the street, become a national 
property. Fame and public favor are showered upon 
him, so that (at this time when millions of his fellows 
are perishing) he feels well, self-confident, alive as 
never before. 

His pride is increased, his joy of life accentuated, 
when his son Maxime leaves for the front filled with 
martial ardor. His first thought, a few months later, 
when the young man comes home on leave, is that 
Maxime should retail to him all the ecstasies of war. 
Strangely enough, however, the young soldier, whose 
eyes still burn with the sights he has seen, is unrespon- 
sive. Not wishing to mortify his father, he does not 
positively attempt to silence the latter's paeans, but for 
his part, he maintains silence. For days this muteness 
stands between them, and the father is unable to solve 
the riddle. He feels dumbly that his son is conceal- 
ing something. But shame binds both their tongues. 
On the last day of the furlough, Maxime suddenly pulls 
himself together, and begins, "Father, are you quite 
sure . . .?" But the question remains unfinished, ut- 


terance is choked. Still silent, the young man returns 
to the realities of war. 

A few days later there is a fresh offensive. Maxime 
is reported missing. Soon his father learns that he is 
dead. Now Clerambault gropes for the meaning of 
those last words behind the silence, and is tormented by 
the thought of what was left unspoken. He locks him- 
self into his room, and for the first time he is alone with 
V ] his conscience. He begins to question himself in search 
of the truth, and throughout the long night he com- 
munes with his soul as he traverses the road to Damas- 
cus. Piece by piece he tears away the wrapping of 
XjV lies with which he has enveloped himself, until he stands 

* naked before his own criticism. Prejudices have eaten 

deep into his skin, so that the blood flows as he plucks 
them from him. They must all be surrendered; the 
prejudice of the fatherland, the prejudice of the herd, 
must go; in the end he recognizes that one thing only is 
true, one thing only sacred, life. A fever of enquiry 
consumes him; the old Adam perishes in the flame; 
when the day dawns he is a new man. 

He knows the truth now, and wishes to strengthen his 
own faith. He goes to some of his fellows and talks 
to them. Most of them do not understand him. Others 
refuse to understand him. Some, however, among 
whom Perrotin the academician is notable, are yet more 
alarming. They know the truth. To their penetrating 
vision the nature of the popular idols has long been 
plain. But they are cautious folk. They compress 
their lips and smile at one another like the augurs of 


ancient Rome. Like Buddha, they take refuge in Nir- 
vana, looking down calmly upon the madness of the 
world, tranquilly seated upon their pedestals of stone. 
Clerambault calls to mind that other Indian saint, who 
took a solemn vow that he would not withdraw from 
the world until he had delivered mankind from suffer- 
ing. The truth still glows too fiercely within him; he 
feels as if it would stifle him as it strives to gush forth 
in volcanic eruption. Once again he plunges into the 
solitude of a wakeful night. Men's words have sounded 
empty. He listens to his conscience, and it speaks with 
the voice of his son. Truth knocks at the door of his 
soul, and he opens to truth. In this lonely night Cler- 
ambault begins to speak to his fellows; no longer to 
individuals, but to all mankind. For the first time the 
man of letters becomes aware of the poet's true mis- ' 
sion, his responsibility for all persons and for every- ( 
thing. He knows that he is beginning a new war, he 1 
who alone must wage war for all. But the conscious- ' 
ness of truth is with him, his heroism has begun. 

"Forgive us, ye Dead," the dialogue of the country ^ 
with its children, is published. At first no one heeds 
the pamphlet. But after a time it arouses public ani- 
mosity. A storm of indignation bursts upon Cleram- 
bault, threatening to lay his life in ruins. Friends for- 
sake him. Envy, which had long been crouching for a 
spring, now sends whole regiments to the attack. Am- 
bitious colleagues seize the opportunity of proclaiming 
their patriotism in contrast with his deplorable senti- 
ments. Worst of all for Clerambault in that his inno- 


cent wife and daughter have to suffer on his account. 
They do not upbraid him, but he feels as if he had aimed 
a shaft against them. He who has hitherto sunned him- 
self in the warmth of family life and has enjoyed the 
comforts of modest fame, is now absolutely alone. 

Nevertheless he continues on his course, although 
these stations of the cross become harder and harder. 
Holland shows how Clerambault finds new friends, only 
to discover that they too fail to understand him. How 
his words are mutilated, his ideas misapplied. How he 
is overwhelmed to learn that his fellows, those whom 
he wishes to help, have no desire for truth, but are 
nourished by falsehood; that they are continually in 
search, not of freedom, but of some new form of slav- 
ery. (In these wonderful passages the reader is again 
and again reminded of Dostoievsky's Grand Inquisitor.) 
He perseveres in his pilgrimage even when he has lost 
faith in his power to help his fellow men, for this is 
no longer his goal. He passes men by, marching on- 
ward towards the unseen, towards truth; his love for 
truth exposing him ever more pitilessly to the hatred 
of men. By degrees he becomes entangled in a net 
of calumnies; his troubles develop into a "Clerambault 
affair"; at length a prosecution is initiated. The state 
has recognized its enemy in the free man. But while 
the case is still in progress, the "defeatist" meets his 
fate from the pistol bullet of a fanatic. Clerambault's 
end recalls the opening of the world catastrophe with 
the assassination of Jaures. 

Never has the tragedy of conscience been more simply 


and more poignantly depicted than in this account of 
the martyrdom of an average man. Holland's ripe spir- 
itual powers, his magical faculty for combining mastery 
with the human touch, are here at their highest. Never 
was his outlook over the world so extensive, never was 
the view so serene, as from this last summit. And yet, 
though we are thus led upwards to the consideration of 
the ultimate problems of the spirit, we start from the 
plain of everyday life. It is the soul of a commonplace 
man, the soul it might seem of a weakling, which moves 
through this long passion. Herein lies the marvel of 
the moral solace which the book conveys. Holland was 
the first to recognize the defect of his previous writings, 
considered as means of helping the average man. In 
the heroic biographies, heroism is displayed only by 
those in whom the heroic soul is inborn, only by those ^ •"^^ 
whose flight is winged with genius. In ]ean Cliristophe, V >-" ^ '^ ^S' 

the moral victory is a triumph of native energy. But 
in Clerambault we are shown that even the weakling, 
even the mediocre man, every one of us, can be stronger 
than the whole world if he have but the will. It is 
open to every man to be true, open to every man to 
win spiritual freedom, if he be at one with his con- 
science, and if he regard this fellowship with his con- 
science as of greater value than fellowship with men and 
with the age. For each man there is always time, for 
each man there is always opportunity, to become master 
of realities. Aert, the first of Holland's heroes to show 
himself greater than fate, speaks for us all when he 
says: "It is never too late to be free!" 



FOR five years Romain Rolland was at war with 
the madness of the times. At length the fiery 
chains were loosened from the racked body of 
Europe. The war was over, the armistice had been 
signed. Men were no longer murdering one another; 
but their evil passions, their hate, continued. Romain 
Rolland's prophetic insight celebrated a mournful tri- 
umph. His distrust of victory, his reiterated warnings 
that conquerors are merciless, were more than justified 
by the revengeful reality. "Victory in arms is disas- 
trous to the ideal of an unselfish humanity. Men find 
it extraordinarily difficult to remain gentle in the hour 
of triumph." These forecasts were terribly fulfilled. 
Forgotten were all the fine words anent the victory 
of freedom and right. The Versailles conference 
devoted itself to the installation of a new regime of 
force and to the humiliation of a defeated enemy. Wliat 
the idealism of simpletons had expected to be the end 
of all wars, proved, as the true idealists who look beyond 
men towards ideas had foreseen, the seed of fresh 
hatred and renewed acts of violence. 

Once again, at the eleventh hour, Rolland raised his 



voice in an address to the man whom sanguine persons 
then regarded as the last representative of idealism, as 
the advocate of perfect justice. Woodrow Wilson, when 
he landed in Europe, was received by the exultant cries 
of millions. But the historian is aware "that universal 
history is but a succession of proofs that the conqueror 
invariably grows arrogant and thus plants the seed of 
new wars." Rolland felt that there was never greater 
need for a policy that should be moral, not militarist, 
that should be constructive, not destructive. The citi- 
zen of the world, the man who had endeavored to free 
the war from the stigma of hate, now tried to perform 
the same service on behalf of the peace. The Euro- 
pean addressed the American in moving terms: "You 
alone. Monsieur le President, among all those whose 
dread duty it now is to guide the policy of the nations, 
you alone enjoy world-wide moral authority. You 
inspire universal confidence. Answer the appeal of 
these passionate hopes! Take the hands which are 
stretched forth, help them to clasp one another. . . . 
Should this mediator fail to appear, the human masses, 
disarrayed and unbalanced, will almost inevitably break 
forth into excesses. The common people will welter in 
bloody chaos, while the parties of traditional order will 
fly to bloody reaction. . . . Heir of George Washing- 
ton and Abraham Lincoln, take up the cause, not of a 
party, not of a single people, but of all! Summon the 
representatives of the peoples to the Congress of Man- 
kind! Preside over it with the full authority which 
you hold in virtue of your lofty moral consciousness and 


in virtue of the great future of America! Speak, speak 
to all! The world hungers for a voice which will over- 
leap the frontiers of nations and of classes. Be the 
arbiter of the free peoples! Thus may the future hail 
you by the name of Reconciler!" 

The prophet's voice was drowned by the clamors for 
revenge. Bismarckism triumphed. Literally fulfilled 
was the prophecy that the peace would be as inhuman 
as the war had been. Humanity could find no abiding 
place among men. When the regeneration of Europe 
might have been begun, the sinister spirit of conquest 
continued to prevail. "There are no victors, but only 



DESPITE all disillusionments, Romain Rolland, 
the indomitable, continued his addresses to the 
ultimate court of appeal, to the spirit of fel- 
lowship. On the day when peace was signed, June 26, 
1919, he published in "L'Humanite' a manifesto com- 
posed by himself and subscribed by sympathizers of all 
nationalities. In a world falling to ruin, it was to be 
the cornerstone of the invisible temple, the refuge of the 
disillusioned. With masterly touch Rolland sums up 
the past, and displays it as a warning to the future. He 
issues a clarion call. 

"Brain workers, comrades, scattered throughout the 
world, kept apart for five years by the armies, the cen- 
sorship, and the mutual hatred of the warring nations, 
now that barriers are falling and frontiers are being re- 
opened, we issue to you a call to reconstitute our broth- 1 
erly union, and to make of it a new union more firmly 
founded and more strongly built than that which prev« 
iously existed. 

"The war has disordered our ranks. Most of the in- 
tellectuals placed their science, their art, their reason, 
at the service of the governments. We do not wish 
to formulate any accusations, to launch any reproaches. 



We know the weakness of the individual mind and the 
elemental strength of great collective currents. The 
latter, in a moment, swept the former away, for noth- 
ing had been prepared to help in the work of resist- 
ance. Let this experience, at least, be a lesson to us 
for the future! 

"First of all, let us point out the disasters that have 
resulted from the almost complete abdication of in- 
telligence throughout the world, and from its voluntary 
enslavement to the unchained forces. Thinkers, artists, 
have added an incalculable quantity of envenomed hate 
to the plague which devours the flesh and the spirit of 
Europe. In the arsenal of their knowledge, their mem- 
ory, their imagination, they have sought reasons for 
hatred, reasons old and new, reasons historical, scien- 
tific, logical, and poetical. They have labored to de- 
stroy mutual understanding and mutual love among 
men. So doing, they have disfigured, defiled, debased, 
degraded. Thought, of which they were the representa- 
tives. They have made it an instrument of the pas- 
sions; and (unwittingly, perchance) they have made it 
a tool of the selfish interests of a political or social 
clique, of a state, a country, or a class. Now, when, 
from the fierce conflict in which the nations have been 
at grips, the victors and the vanquished emerge equally 
stricken, impoverished, and at the bottom of their hearts 
(though they will not admit it) utterly ashamed of their 
access of mania — -now, Thought, which has been en- 
tangled in their struggles, emerges, like them, fallen 
from her high estate. 









^ 3 ^ 


J ^ > 





^"^ i^ ^ ( ^^ M -'-^ u ^ 



rT4 .^i \\^rd -i 





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V :i Xi^ i-ry 

■^V* -^ ^^ i -^ ^- <t^^ I ;^ 




"Arise! Let us free the mind from these compro- 
mises, from these unworthy alliances, from these veiled 
slaveries! Mind is no one's servitor. It is we who are 
the servitors of mind. We have no other master. We 
exist to bear its light, to defend its light, to rally 
round it all the strayed sheep of mankind. Our role, 
our duty, is to be a center of stability, to point out the 
pole star, amid the whirlwind of passions in the night. 
Among these passions of pride and mutual destruc- 
tion, we make no choice; we reject them all. Truth only 
do we honor; truth that is free, frontierless, limitless; 
truth that knows naught of the prejudices of race or 
caste. Not that we lack interest in humanity. For hu- j 
manity we work; but for humanity as a whole. We 
know nothing of peoples. We know the People, unique 
and universal; the People which suffers, which struggles, 
which falls and rises to its feet once more, and which 
eontinues to advance along the rough road drenched 
with its sweat and its blood; the People, all men, all 
alike our brothers. In order that they may, like our- 
selves, realize this brotherhood, we raise above their 
blind struggles the Ark of the Covenant — Mind, which is 
free, one and manifold, eternal." 

Many hundreds of persons have signed this manifesto, 
for leading spirits in every land accept the message and 
make it their own. The invisible republic of the spirit, 
the universal fatherland, has been established among the 
races and among the nations. Its frontiers are open to 
all who wish to dwell therein; its only law is that of 
brotherhood; its only enemies are hatred and arrogance 


between nations. Whoever makes his home within this 
invisible realm becomes a citizen of the world. He is 
the heir, not of one people but of all peoples. Hence- 
forward he is an indweller in all tongues and in all 
countries, in the universal past and the universal future. 



STRANGE has been the rhythm of this man's life, 
surging again and again in passionate waves 
against the time, sinking once more into the abyss 
of disappointment, but never failing to rise on the crest 
of faith renewed. Once again we see Romain Rolland 
as prototype of those who are magnificent in defeat. 
Not one of his ideals, not one of his wishes, not one 
of his dreams, has been realized. Might has triumphed 
over right, force over spirit, men over humanity. 

Yet never has his struggle been grander, and never 
has his existence been more indispensable, than during 
recent years; for it is his apostolate alone which has 
saved the gospel of crucified Europe; and furthermore 
he has rescued for us another faith, that of the imagina- 
tive writer as the spiritual leader, the moral spokesman 
of his own nation and of all nations. This man of let- 
ters has preserved us from what would have been an 
imperishable shame, had there been no one in our days 
to testify against the lunacy of murder and hatred. To 
him we owe it that even during the fiercest storm in his- 
tory the sacred fire of brotherhood was never extin- 
guished. The world of the spirit has no concern with 



the deceptive force of numbers. In that realm, one 
individual can outweigh a multitude. For an idea never 
glows so brightly as in the mind of the solitary thinker; 
and in the darkest hour we were able to draw consola- 
tion from the signal example of this poet. One great 
man who remains human can for ever and for all men 
'rescue our faith in humanity. 




Les origines du theatre lyrique moderne. (Histoire de I'opera 

en Europe avant Lully et Scarlatti.) Fontemoing, Paris, 

Cur ars picturae.apud Italos XVI saeculi deciderit. Fontemo- 

ing, Paris, 1895. 
Millet. Duckworth, London, 1902 (has appeared in English 

translation only). 
Vie de Beethoven. (Vie des hommes illustres.) Cahiers de 

la quinzaine, serie IV, No. 10, Paris, 1903; Hachette, 

Paris, 1907; another edition with woodcuts by Perrichon, 

J. P. Laurens, P. A. Laurens, and Perrichon, published by 

Edouard Pelletan, Paris, 1909. 
Le Theatre du Peuple. Cahiers de la quinzaine, serie V, No. 

4, Paris, 1903; Hachette, Paris, 1908; enlarged edition, 

Hachette, Paris, 1913; Ollendorff, Paris, 1920. 
Paris als Musikstadt. Marquardt, Berlin, 1905 (has appeared 

in German translation only) . 
La vie de Michel-Ange. (Vie des hommes illustres.) Cahiers 

de la quinzaine, serie VII, No. 18; serie VIII, No. 2, 

Paris, 1906; Hachette, Paris, 1907. 

Another edition in Les maitres de I'art series, Librairie 

de I'art, ancien et moderne, Plon, Paris, 1905. 
Musiciens d'autrefois, Hachette, Paris, 1908*. 

1. L'o^era avant I'opera. 2. Le premier opera joue a 

Paris: L'Orfeo de Luigi Rossi. 3. Notes sur Lully. 4. 

Gluck. 5. Gretry. 6. Mozart. 


Musiciens d'aujourd'hui, Hachette, Paris, 1908. 

1. Berlioz. 2. Wagner: Siegfried; Tristan. 3. Saint- 

Saens. 4. Vincent d'Indy. 5. Richard Strauss. 6. 

Hugo Wolf. 7. Don Lorenzo Perosi. 8. Musique fran- 

gaise et musique allemande. 9. Pelleas et Melisande. 

10. Le renouveau: esquisse du movement musical a Paris 

depuis 1870. 
Paul Dupin. Mercure musical. S. J. M. 15/12, 1908. 
Haendel. (Les maitres de la musique.) Alcan, Paris, 1910. 
Vie de Tolstoi. (Vie des hommes illustres.) Hachette, Paris, 

L'humble vie heroique. Pensees choisies et precedees d'une 

introduction par Alphonse Seche. Sansot, Paris, 1912. 
Empedocle d' Agrigente. Le Carmel, Geneva, 1917; La mai- 

son francaise d'art et d'edition, Paris, 1918. 
Voyage musical aux pays du passe. With woodcuts by D. 

Galanis. Edouard Joseph, Paris, 1919; Hachette, Paris, 

Ecole des Hautes Etudes Sociales (1900-1910). Alcan, Paris, 




Au-dessus de la melee. Ollendorff, Paris, 1915. 

Les precurseurs. L'Humanite, Paris, 1919. 

Aux peuples assassines. Jeunesses Socialistes Romandes, La 
Chaux-de-Fonds, 1917; Ollendorff, Paris, 1920. 

Aux peuples assassines (under the title: Civilisation). Pri- 
vately printed, Paris, 1918. 

Aux peuples assassines. As frontispiece a wood-engraving by 
Frans Masereel. Restricted circulation. Ollendorff, 
Paris, 1920. 



Jean-Christophe. 15 parts 190H912. Cahiers de la quin- 
zaine, Serie V, Nos. 9 and 10; Serie VI, No. 8; Serie VIII, 
Nos. 4, 6, 9; Serie IX, Nos. 13, 14, 15; Serie X, Nos. 9, 
10; Serie XI, Nos. 7, 8; Serie XIII, Nos. 5, 6; Serie XIV, 
Nos. 2, 3; Paris, 1904 et seq. 

Jean-Christophe. 10 vols. 

1. L'aube. 2. Le matin. 3. L'adolescent. 4. La re- 
volte. (1904^1907.) 

Jean-Christophe a Paris. 

1. La foire sur la place. 2. Antoinette. 3. Dans la 
maison. (1908-1910.) 

Jean-Christophe. La fin du voyage. 

1. Les amies. 2. Le buisson ardent. 3. La nouvelle 
journee. (1910-1912.) 
Ollendorff, Paris. 

Colas Breugnon. Ollendorff, Paris, 1918. 

Pierre et Luce. Le Sablier, Geneva, 1920; Ollendorff, Paris, 

Clerambault. Ollendorff, Paris, 1920. 



Introduction to Une lettre inedite de Tolstoi, Cahiers de la 

quinzaine, Serie III, No. 9, Paris, 1902. 
Haendel et le Messie. (Preface to Le Messie de G. F. Haendel 

by Felix Raugel.) Depot de la Societe cooperative des 

compositeurs de musique, Paris, 1912. 
Stendhal et la musique. (Preface to La vie de Haydn in the 

complete edition of Stendhal's works.) Champion, Paris, 



Preface lo Celles qui travaillent by Simone Bodeve, Ollendorff, 

Paris, 1913. 
Preface to Une voix de femme dans la melee by Marcelle Capy, 

Ollendorff, Paris, 1916. 
Anthologie des poetes centre la guerre. Le Sablier, Geneva, 



Saint Louis. (5 acts.) Revue de Paris, March-April, 1897. 

Aert. (3 acts.) Revue de I'art dramatique, Paris, 1898. 

Les loups. (3 acts.) Georges Bellais, Paris, 1898. 

Le triomphe de la raison. (3 acts.) Revue de Fart dra- 
matique, Paris, 1899. 

Danton. (3 acts.) Revue de Part dramatique, Paris, 1900; 
Cahiers de la quinzaine, Serie II, No. 6, 1901. 

Le quatorze juillet. (3 acts.) Cahiers de la quinzaine, Serie 

III, No. 11, Paris, 1902. 

,/ Le temps viendra. (3 acts.) Cahiers de la quinzaine, Serie 

IV, No. 14, Paris, 1903; Ollendorff, Paris, 1920. 
x^'Les trois amoureuses. (3 acts.) Revue de Part dramatique, 

Paris, 1904. 
. La Montespan. (3 acts.) Revue de Part dramatique, Paris, 

1904. V 

Theatre de la Revolution. ^ , , ^^ . 

Les loups. Danton. Le quatorze juillet. 

Hachette, Paris, 1909 (now transferred to Ollendorff). 
Les tragedies de la foi. 

Saint Louis. Aert. Le triomphe de la raison. 

Hachette, Paris, 1909 (now transferred to Ollendorff). 
Liluli (with woodcuts by Frans Masereel). Le Sablier, 

Geneva, 1919; Ollendorff, Paris,* 1920. 



Millet. Translated by Clementina Black. Duckworth, Lon- 
don, 1902. 

Beethoven. Translated by F. Rothwell. Drane, London, 1907, 

Beethoven. Translated by Constance Hull. With a brief 
analysis of the sonatas, symphonies, and the quartets, 
by A. Eaglefield Hull, and 24 musical illustrations and 4 
plates and an introduction by Edward Carpenter. Kegan 
Paul, Trench, Trubner, London, 1917. 

The Life of Michael Angelo. Translated by Frederic Lees. 
Heinemann, London, 1912. 

Tolstoy. Translated by Bernard Miall. Fisher Unwin, Lon- 
don, 1911. 

Some Musicians of former Days. Translated by Mary Blaik- 
lock. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, London, 1915. 

Handel. Translated by A. Eaglefield Hull. Kegan Paul, 
Trench, Trubner, London, 1916. 

Musicians of To-day. Translated by Mary Blaiklock. Kegan 
Paul, Trench, Trubner, London, 1915. 

The People's Theater. Translated by Barrett H. Clark. Holt, 
New York, 1918; G. Allen & Unwin, London, 1919. 

Go to the Ant. (Reflections on reading Auguste Sorel.) 
Translated by De Kay. Atlantic Monthly, May, 1919, 
New York. 

Above the Battlefield. With an introduction by G. Lowes Dick- 
inson, Bowes, Cambridge, 1914. 

Above the Battlefield. With an introduction by Rev. Richards 
Roberts, M.A. Friends' Peace Committee, London, 1915. 

Above the Battle. Translated by C. K. Ogden. G. Allen & 
Unwin, London, 1916. 

The Idols. Translated by C. K. Ogden. With a letter by R. 


Holland to Dr. van Eeden on the rights of small .nations 

Bowes, Cambridge, 1915. 
The Forerunners. Translated by Eden & Cedar Paul. G 

Allen & Unwin, London, 1920; Harcourt, Brace, U. S. A 

The Fourteenth of July and Danton: two plays of the French 

Revolution. Translated with a preface by Barrett H 

Clarke. Holt, New York, 1918; G. Allen & Unwin, Lon 

don, 1919. 
Liluli. The Nation, London, Sept. 20 to Nov. 29, 1919; Boni 

& Liveright, New York, 1920. 
Jean Christophe. Translated by Gilbert Cannan. Heine 

mann, London, 1910-1913; Holt, New York, 1911-1913. 
Colas Breugnon. Translated by K. Miller. Holt, New York 

Clerambault. Translated by K. Miller. Holt, New York, 



Beethoven. Translated by L. Langnese-Hug. Rascher, Zurich, 

Michelangelo. Translated by W. Herzog. Riitten & Loenig, 
Frankfort, 1918. 

Michelangelo. Rascher, Zurich, 1919. 

Tolstoi. Translated by W. Herzog. Riitten & Loenig, Frank- 
fort, 1920. 

Den hingeschlachteten Volkern, translated by Stefan Zweig. 
Rascher, Zurich, 1918. 

Au-dessus de la melee. Riitten & Loening, Frankfort. 

Les precurseurs. Riitten & Loeing, Frankfort, 1920. 

Johann Christof. Translated by Otto & Erna Grautoflf. Riit- 
ten & Loening, Frankfort, 1912-1918. 

Meister Breugnon. Translated by Otto & Erna GrautofiF. 
Riitten & Loening, Frankfort, 1919. 


Clerambault. Translated by Stefan Zweig. Riitten & Loaning, 

Frankfort, 1920. 
Die Wolfe. Translated by W. Herzog. Muller, Munich, 1914. 
Danton. Translated by Lucy von Jacobi and W. Herzog. 

Muller, Munich, 1919. 
Die Zeit wird kommen. Translated by Stefan Zweig. "Die 

Zwolf Bucher," Tal, Vienna, 1920. 


Vie de Beethoven. Translated by J. R. Jimenez, a la Resi- 

dentia de Estudiantes de Madrid, 1914. 
Au-dessus de la melee. Delgado & Santonja, Madrid, 1916. 
Jean-Christophe. Translated by Toro y Gomez. Ollendorff, 

Paris-Madrid, 1905-1910. 
Colas Breugnon. Agence de Librairie, Madrid, 1919. 


Au-dessus de la melee. Avanti, Milan, 1916. 

Aux peuples assassines. Translated by Monanni with drawings 

by Frans Masereel. Libreria Internationale, Zurich, 1917. 
Jean-Christophe. Translated by Cesare Alessandri. Sonzogno, 

Milan, 1920. 
Vie de Michel-Ange. Translated by Maria Venti. Felice le 

Monnier, Florence. [In the press.] 


Theatre de la Revolution. Translated by Joseph Goldenberg, 

St. Petersburg. 1909. 
Theatre du Peuple. Translated by Joseph Goldenberg. St. 

Petersburg. 1909. 
Empedocle dAgrigente. [In the press.] 
Jean-Christophe. Unauthorized translation in 4 vols. Vetch- 

erni Zvon, Moscow, 1912. 
Jean-Christophe. Authorized translation by M. TchlenoflF. 



Vie de Beethoven. Branner, Copenhagen, 1915. 
Tolstoi. Branner, Copenhagen, 1917. 
Musiciens d'aujourd'hui. Denmark & Norway, 1917. 
Au-dessus de la melee. Lios, Copenhagen, 1916. 
Jean-Christophe. Hagerup, Copenhagen, 1916. 
Colas Breugnon. Denmark & Norway; Norstedt, Stockholm, 


Vie de Michel-Ange. Translated by M. Kalassova. Prague, 

Danton. 1920. 


Vie de Beethoven. Jacewski, Warsaw, 1913. 

Jean-Christophe. Translated by Edwige Sienkiewicz. Vols. 

I & II, Bibljoteka Sfinska, Warsaw, 1910; the remaining 

vols., Maski, Cracow, 1917-19 — . 


Vie de Beethoven. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, 

Stockholm. 1915. 
Vie de Michelange. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, 

Stockhobn. 1916. 
Vie de Tolstoi. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, 

Stockholm. 1916. 
Handel. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 

Millet. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 



Musiciens d'aujourd'IiU', Translated by Mrs. Akermann 

Norstedt, Stockholm. :'.917. 
Musiciens d'autrefois. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Nor 

stedt, Stockholm. 1917. 
Voyage musical au pays du passe. Translated by Mrs. Aker 

mann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 1920. 
Au-dessus de la melee. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Nor 

stedt, Stockholm. 1915. 
Les precurseurs. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt 

Stockholm. 1920. 
Theatre de la Revolution. Translated by Mrs. Akermann 

Bonnier, Stockholm. 1917. 
Tragedies de la foi. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Boimier 

Stockholm. 1917. 
Le temps viendra. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt 

Liluli. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Bonnier, Stockholm 

Jean-Christophe. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Bonnier 

Stockholm. 1913-1917. 
Colas Breugnon. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt 

Stockholm. 1919. 
Clerambault. In course of preparation. Bormier, Stockholm 


Vie de Beethoven, Simon, Amsterdam, 1913. 

Jean-Christophe. Brusse, Rotterdam, 1915. 

L'aube. Special edition, W. F. J. Tjeenk Willink, ZwoUe, 

Colas Breugnon. MeulenhofF, Amsterdam, 1919. 


Tolstoi. Seichi Naruse, Tokyo, 1916. 

And many other unauthorized translations. 


Beethoven. Translated by Niramos. 1920. 


Jean Bonnerot. Remain Rolland (Extraits de ses oeuvres avec 

introduction biographique), Cahiers du Centre, Nevers, 

Lucien Maury. Figures litteraires. Perrin, 1911. 
/. H. Retinger. Histoire de la litterature frangaise du ro- 

mantisme a nos jours. B. Grasset, 1911. 
Jules Bertaut. Les romanciers du nouveau siecle. Sansot, 

Paul Seippel. Romain Rolland, rhomme et I'oeuvre. Ollen- 
dorff, 1913. 
Marc Elder. Romain Rolland. Paris, 1914. 
Robert Dreyfus. Maitres contemporains. (Peguy, Claudel, 

Suares, Romain Rolland.) Paris, 1914. 
Daniel Halevy. Quelques nouveaux maitres. Cahiers du 

Centre. Figuiere, 1914. 
G. Dwelshauvers. Romain Rolland. Vue caracteristique de 

I'homme et de I'ceuvre. Ed. de la Belgique artistique et 

litteraire, Brussels, 1913 or 1914. 
Paul Souday. Les drames philosophiques de Romain Rolland. 

Emile Paul, Paris, 1914. 
Max Hochstdtter. Essai sur I'ceuvre de Romain Rolland. 

Fischbacher, Paris; Georg & Co., Geneva, 1914. 
Henri Guilbeaux. Pour Romain Rolland. Jeheber, Geneva, 

Massis. Romain Rolland contre la France. Floury, Paris, 



P. H. Loysoji. Etes-vous neutre devant le crime? Payot, 

Paris and Lausanne, 1916. 
RenaitouT et Loyson. Dans la melee. Ed. du Bonnet Rouge, 

Isabelle Debran. M. Remain Rolland initiateur du defaitisme. 

(Introduction de Diodore.) Geneva, 1918. 
Jacques Servance. Reponse a Mme. Isabelle Debran. Comitc 

d'initiative en faveur d'une paix durable, Neuchatel, 1916. 
Charles Baudouin, Romain Rolland calomnie. Le Carmel, 

Geneva, 1918. 
Daniel Halevy. Charles Peguy et les Cahiers de la Quinzaine. 

Payot, Paris, 1918 et seq. 
Paul Colin. Romain Rolland, Bruxelles, 1920. 
P. J. Jouve. Romain Rolland vivant, Ollendorff, 1920. 

Other Languages 

Otto Grautoff. Romain Rolland, Frankfurt, 1914. 

Winifred Stephens. French Novelists of To-day. Second 
series. J. Lane, London and New York, 1915. 

Albert L. Guerard. Five Masters of French Romance. Scrib' 
ner. New York, 1916. 

Dr. J. Ziegler. Romain Rolland in "Johann Christof," iiber 
Juden und Judentum. v. Dr. Ziegler, Rabbiner in Karls- 
bad. Vienna, 1918. 

Agnes Darmesteter. Twentieth Century French Writers. Lon- 
don, 1919. 

Blumenfeld. Etude sur Romain Rolland, en langue yiddisch. 
Cahiers de litterature et d'art. Paris, 1920. 

Albert Schinz. French Literature of the War. Appleton, New 
York, 1920. 

Pedro Cesare Dominici. De Lutecia, Arte y Critica. Ollen- 
dorff, Madrid. 

Papini. Studii di Romain Rolland. Florence, 1916. 

F. F. Curtis. Die literarischen Wegbereiter des neuen Frank- 
reichs. Kiepenheuer, Potsdam, 1920. 


Walter Kiichler. Vier Vortrage iiber R. Rolland, Henri Bar- 
busse, Fritz v. Unruh, Wiirzburg, 1919. 

Music Connected with Romain Rolland's Writings 

Paul Dupin. Jean-Christophe. (Trois pieces pour piano.) 

1. L'oncle Gottfried (dialogue avee Christophe). 

2. Meditation sur un passage du "Matin." 

3. Berceuse de Louisa. 

Chant du Pelerin (piano et chant). Paroles de Paul 
Gerhardt. Ed. Demets, Paris, 1907. 
Paul Dupin. Jean-Christophe, (Suite pour quatuor a 

1. La mort de l'oncle Gottfried. 

2. Bienvenue au petit. 

Ed. Senart et Roudanez, Paris, 1908. 
Paul Dupin. Pastorale, Sabine. 1. Dans le Jardinet. Piano 

et quatuor. Transcription pour piano et violon. Ed. 

Senart et Roudanez, Paris, 1908. 
Albert Doyen. Le Triomphe de la Liberte. (Scene finale du 

Quatorze Juillet). Prix de la ville de Paris, 1913. (Soli, 

Orchestra et Choeurs.) Ed. A. Leduc, Paris. 


Above the Battle, 266, 290, 291, Bibliography, 357 S. 

293-6, 297, 305, 329. 
Abbesse de Jouarre, V, 125. 
Aert, 66, 73, 77-8, 83-5, 87, 112. 
Aert, 77-8, 83-5, 121, 125, 161, 198, 

244, 260, 347. 

Antoinette, in Jean Christophe, 4, 
165, 175, 212, 224. 

Arcos, Rene, 312, 313. 

Art, love of, and love of mankind, 
20; epic quality in Rolland's, 
63-66, 67 ff; moral force in 
Rolland's, 63 ff; Tolstoi's views 
on, 18-20; universality of, 26. 

Au-dessus de la melee, see Above 
the Battle. 

Aux peuples assassines, 332. 

Bach, Friedemann, 173. 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 173, 245. 

Ballades frangaises, 250. 

Balzac, 64, 65, 169, 177, 250. 

Barres, Maurice, 59, 62. 

Baudouin, Charles, 313. 

Beethoven, 50, 137 ff, 140-3, 150. 

Beethoven, 10, 18, 19, 40, 45, 67, 
104, 140-143, 144, 145, 147, 148, 
151, 161, 163, 172, 174, 175, 182, 

245, 252, 325, 328; festival, 35, 
influence of, on Rolland's child- 
hood, 5ff; Jean Christophe's 
resemblance to, 173. 

Beginnings of Opera, The, 34. 
Belgique sanglante, la, 282. 
Berlioz, 10, 150. 

Biographies, heroic, 133-53; un- 
written, 150-3. 

Bonn, 35, 140, 141. 

Brahms, 174. 

Breal, Michel, 35. 

Breugnon, Colas, in Colas BreU' 
gnon, 241-53, 319; spiritual 
kinship of, with Jean Christophe, 
244-48; see Colas Breugnon. 

Brunetiere, 16. 

Burckhardt, Jakob, 16. 

Byron, 275. 

"Cahiers de la quinzaine" 20, 40, 
43, 50, 143. 

Caligula, 73. 

"Carmel, le," 313. 

Carnot, 99. 

Claes, in Aert, 87. 

Clamecy, birthplace of RoUand, 3, 

Claudel, Paul, 89, 44, 59. 

Clerambault, I'histoire d'une con- 
science litre pendant la guerre, 

Qerambault, Agenor, in Cleram- 
bault, 310, 339-347. 

Qerambault, Maxime, 343 ff. 

Qifford, General, in A Day Will 
Come, 120, 121, 125. 

Colas Breugnon, 241-153, 337; as 
an artistic production, 249-51; 
gauloiseries in, 249-51; origin 
of, 24143. 




Comedie Frangaise, 71, 74. 
Conscience, story of, in Cleram- 

bault, 33947; see Freedom of 

Corneille, 91, 92. 
Couthon, 99. 

Credo quia verum, 16, 17. 
Corinne, in Jean Christophe, 211. 
Cycles, of Holland, 67-71. 

D'Alembert, 87. 

Danse des marts, 312. 

Danton, 41, 101, 106-9, 113, 117. 

Danton, 99, 106-9, 113, 126. 

Debrit, Jean, 313. 

Debussy, 35, 175. 

Declaration of the independence of 
the mind, 351-354. 

Decsey, Ernest, 174. 

Defeat, significance of, in Rolland's 
philosophy of life, 61, 62, 83 ff, 
110 ff, 134 ff, 139. 

"Defeatism," 297-303. 

De Maguet, Claude, 313. 

"Demain," 313. 

Depres, Suzanne, 175. 

Desmoulins, 126. 

Despres, Fernand, 312. 

Deutscher Musiker in Paris, Ein, 

"Deutsche Rundschau, Die," 305. 

Don Carlos, 101. 

Dostoievsky, 2, 346. 

Doyen, 105. 

D'Oyron, in The Wolves, 114. 

Drama, and the masses, see People's 
Theater; erotic vs. political, 
127 ff: Drama of the Revolution, 
69, 70, 86-99, 100-18. 

Dramatic writings, of Holland, 25, 
32, 39, 41, 57-130; craftsman- 
ship of, 127-130; cycles, 67-71; 
Drama of the Revolution, 100- 

130; People's Theater, 85-130; 
poems, 28; tragedies of faith, 
76-85; unknown cycle, 71-75. 

Drames philosophiques, 125. 

Dreyfus affair, 38, 39, 106, 115, 

119, 133. 

Dunois, Amedee, 312. 
Duse, Eleanore, 175. 

Empedocle d'Agrigente et I'dge 

de la haine, 72, 333 ff. 
Etes-vous neutre devant le crime, 


Faber, in Le triomphe de la raison, 

111, 114, 309. 
Faith, in Rolland's philosophy of 

life, 77-79, 81 ff, 166-71, 244 ff; 

tragedies of, 76-85. 
Fellowship, of free spirits, during 

the war, 273 ff, 311-316: 351, 

Fetes de Beethoven, les, 141. 
"Feuille, la," 313. 
Flaubert, 37, 58, 80, 177. 
Forerunners, The, 290, 339-334 
Fort, Paul, 250. 
Fourteenth of July, The, 101-2, 

103-5, 109. 
France, after 1870, 57; picture of, 

in Jean Christophe, 211-216 
France, Anatole, 58, 84, 169. 
Frank, Cesar, 175. 
Frank, Ludwig, 321. 
Freedom, of conscience, 287 ff, 

257-9, 119, 274, 285-8, 298 ff, 

320 ff, 33947 ; vs. the fatherland, 

see The Triumph of Reason. 
French literature, state of, after 

1870, 37, 58 ff. 
French Revolution, 68, 98 ff, 100- 

120, 121, 122; see Drama of the 



Revolution; also People's The- 
French stage, after 1870, 86-89. 

Galeries des fernmes de Shake- 
speare, 6. 

Gamaclie, in Jean Christophe, 175. 

"Gauloiseries," 250. 

Generations, conflicting ideas of 
the 229-234. 

Geneva, during the Great War, 

268 fr. 

Germany, picture of, in Jean 

Christophe, 217-220. 
Girondists, in The Triumph of 

Reason, 110 ff, 121, 129, 169, 260. 
Gli Baglioni, 73, 74. 
Gluck, 173, 175, 212. 
Goethe, 64, 72, 97, 118, 150, 155, 

169, 175, 177, 180, 211, 184, 193, 

219, 230, 263, 275, 278, 305, 

330, 332. 
Gottfried, in Jean Christophe, 204. 
Grautofr, 166, 168. 
Grazia, in Jean Christophe, 175, 

200-202, 205. 
Greatness, will to, in Holland's 

philosophy, 63. 
Great War, The, 1, 65, 257-355, 253, 

264 ff , 339-347. 
Greek tragedy, method of, 128 ff 
Griine Heinrich, Der, 169. 
Guilbeaux, Henri, 281, 313. 

Haendel 34. 

Handel, 150, 173, 175, 245. 

Hatred Holland's campaign against, 

297-304; Verhaeren's attitude of, 

during the war, 2814. 
Hauptmann, 92, 276; Rolland's 

controversy with, 277-280. 
Hardy, Thomas, 64. 
Hassler in Jean Christophe, 174, 


Hebbel, 73, 123. 

Hecht, in Jean Christophe, 175. 

Heroes of suffering, 133-153. 

Heroic biographies, 133-153. 

Herzen, 26. 

Historical drama, see People's 

Theater . 
History, and the People's Theater, 

95 ff; Rolland's conception of, 

95 ff; sense of, in early writings, 

Hoche, General, 150. 
Holderlin, 73. 
Hugot, in The Triumph of Reason, 

63, 111, 114. 
Hugo, Victor, 37, 64, 92, 121. 

Idoles les, 299. 

"Iliad of the French People," see 
People's Theater. 

Illusions perdues, les, 65. 

Inter Arma Caritas, 297. 

Iphigenia, 1 18. 

Italy, picture of, in Jean Christophe, 

Idealism, in Rolland's philosophy, 
60 ff, 85, 123, 166-71; char- 
acterization of Germany, 211-216; 
of Italy, 222. 

Internationalism, 207-10, 255, 285- 
8, 351-4; see Above the Battle; 

Fellowship, of free spirits; 
Hatred, Rolland's campaign 

Ibsen, 126 ff. 

Italy, Rolland's sojourn in, 23-28, 

Jaures, 13, 41, 109, 346. 

Jean Christophe, 18, 30, 36, 49, 
65, 70, 130, 143, 157-237, 165, 
257, 300, 305, 311, 318, 339, 340; 
as an educational romance, 166* 



71; characters of, 172-5; enigma 
of creative work, 181-7; France, 
picture of, in, 211-16; genera- 
tions, conflicting ideas of, in 
229-34; Germany, picture of, in, 
217-220; Italy, picture of, in 
221-3; Jews, the, in, 224-8; mes- 
sage of, 157-159; music, form 
and content of, 177-80; origin of 
162-5; writing of, 43-44-, 162-5. 

Jean Christophe, 26, 31, 38, 40, 42, 
43, 49, 50, 65, 68, 76, 97, 153, 
157-237, 241, 246, 257, 258, 260, 
317, 336, 340, 342; and Grazia, 
200-1; and his fellow men, 203-6; 
and his generation, 229-36; and 
the nations, 207-10; apostle of 
force, 189 ff ; as the artist and 
creator, 188-94; character of, 
172-75; contrast to Olivier, 
195 ff. 

Jouve, 287, 312, 313. 

Justice, problem of, considered by 
RoUand in Dreyfus case, 39; vs. 
the fatherland, see The Wolves. 

Kaufmann, Emil, 174. 
Keller, Gottfried, 169, 177. 
Kleist, 73, 92. 
Kohn, Sylvain, in Jean Christophe, 

212, 224. 
Krafft, Jean Christophe, see Jean 


Language, as obstacle to interna- 
tionalism, 229 ff . 

Lazare, Bernard, 39, 143. 

Lebens Abend einer Idealistin, 
Der, 27, 73. 

Legende de Saint Julien VHospi- 
talier, 80. 

Letters, of RoUand, during war, 

Levy-Coeur, in Jean Christophe, 
175, 205, 224. 

Le 14 Juillet, see Fourteenth of 
July, The. 

Liberty, characterization of France, 

Life of Michael Angela, The, 40, 

Life of Timolien, 131. 

Liluli, 300, 335-338, 339. 

Loups, les, see The Wolves. 

Lux, Adams, 101, 111, 112, 309. 

Lyceum of Louis the Great, 8. 

Madame Bovary, 64. 

Mahler, Gustave, 35, 175. 

Mannheim, Judith, in Jean Chris- 
tophe, 226. 

Marat, 101. 

Martinet, Marcel, 312. 

Masereel, Franz, 313. 

Maupassant, 13, 58, 64, 91, 26, 150. 

Mazzini, 151, 222. 

Meistersinger, Die, 92. 

Mesnil, Jacques, 312, 

Meunier, 87. 

Meutre des elites, le, 297. 

Meyerbeer, 212. 

Michelangelo, 67, 71, 144-6, 147, 
148, 151, 161, 182, 245. 

Michelet, 13. 

Millet, 87, 50. 

Mirbeau, 85. 

Moliere, 92. 

Monod Gabriel, 13, 16, 26, 73. 

Mon Oncle Benjamin, 3. 

Montespan, la, 73, 119. 

Mooch, in Jean Christophe, 224. 

Moreas, 175. 

Mornet, Lieutenant, 306. 

Mounet-SuUy, 74. 

Mozart, 5, 173. 

Music, early influence of, on Rol- 



land, 4; form and content in 
Jean Christophe 177-80; part of 
Holland's drama 104 ff; Hol- 
land's love of, 47; Rolland's 
philosophy of, 132-3; Tolstoi's 
stigraatization of 19. 
Musiciens d'autrefois, 34, 35, 183. 

Nationalistic school of writers 

59, 60, 62. 
Nationalism, 20811; 217-20, 225, 

Naturalism, 15. 
"Neues Vaterland," 306. 
Nietzsche, 2, 26, 37, 162, 174, 177, 

217-20, 255, 332. 
Niobe, 73, 74. 
Nobel peace prize, 270. 
Normal School, 10, 11, 12-17, 13, 

14, 23, 29, 32, 162. 
Notre prochain Vennemi, 297. 
Novalis, 169. 

Offenbach, 212. 

Olivier, in Jean Christophe, 61, 
68, 76, 78, 84, 176, 179, 195-9, 
200, 201, 205, 214 ff, 220, 224, 
225, 233, 244, 246, 257, 260, 264, 
267, 283, 309, 318, 336 340. 

Olivier, Georges, in Jean Chris- 
tophe, 233. 

Offiziere, Die, 85. 

Oration on Shakespeare, 72. 

Orfeo, 33. 

Origines du theatre lyrique mod- 
erne, les, 32, 183. 

Orsino, 72, 74, 

Oudon, Frangoise, in Jean Chris- 
tophe, 75. 

Pacifism, 262 ff. 

Paine, Thomas 9,7. 150. 

Parsifal, 30, 81, 62, 191. 
Peguy, Charles, 14, 20, 38, 39, 59, 
115, 143. 

People's Theater, The, 41, 65, 133, 
68, 88. 94-97. 

Phillippe, Charles Louis, 44, 91. 

Philosophy of life, of Rolland, see 
Art of Rolland; Conscience; 
Defeat, significance of; Faith; 
Freedom of Conscience; Great- 
ness will to; Hatred, campaign 
against; Idealism; Internation- 
alism; Justice; Struggle, element 
of; Suffering, significance of. 

Picquart, 39, 115. 

Perrotin, in Cleramhault, 344. 

Pioch, Georges, 312. 

Polichinelle, in Lilidi, 337. 

Precurseurs, les, see The Fore- 

Pretre de Nemi, le, 125. 

Prinz von Hamburg, Der, 92. 

Provenzale, Francesco, 34. 

Quesnel, in Les Loups, 114. 

Racine, 91, 92. 

Railber, Die, 92. 

Red Cross, in Switzerland, 268 ff, 

269 ff. 
Renaissance, 24, 25, 68, 71. 
Renaitour, 312. 
Renan, 12, 13, 25, 37, 125 ff, 176, 

196, 214, 309. 
"Revue de I'art dramatique," 35, 

"Revue de Paris" 25, 141. 
Robespierre, 99, 101, 108, 113, 117, 

Rolland, Madeleine, 3. 
Rolland, Romain, academic life of, 

in Paris, 32-35, 42; adolescence 



of, 3-11; ancestry of, 3; and his 
epoch, 57-62; and the European 
spirit, 52, 53; appeal to Presi- 
dent Wilson, 348-50; as embodi 
ment of European spirit, 52-3 
art of, 63-6; at Paris, 32-5, 36 
attitude of, during the war, 257- 
355 ; campaign of, against hatred 
297-303; childhood of, 3-7; con- 
troversy of, with Hauptmann, 277- 
80; correspondence of, with 
Verhaeren 2814; cycles of 67- 
75; diary of, during the war, 
327-28; drama of the revolution, 
100-30; dramatic writings, 25,28, 
57, 130; Dreyfus case, 3847, 
fame, 49, 50, 51, 48; father of, 
6; friendships, 13-15, 25, 26-28, 
311-316; heroic biographies, 133- 
153; humanitarianism of, 307 fif; 
idealism of, 60 ff; influence of, 
during the war, 320-326, 355-6; 
influence of Tolstoi on, 19-22; 
Jean Christophe, 157-237; letters 
of, during the war, 317-319; 
marriage of, 35, 41, 73, 134; 
mass suggestion in writings of, 
261, 266, 32947; mother of, 3, 
27; newspaper writing of 289- 
292; opponents of, during the 
war, 304-10; portrait of, 46, 47; 
role of, in fellowship of free 
spirits during the war, 273 ff; 
Rome, 23, 28; schooling of 5-17; 
seclusion, 43, 44, 45-7, 48-49, 
324; significance of life work, 
2; tragedies of faith, 76-85; un- 
written biographies, 150-153. 

Rossi, Ernesto, 24. 

Rossi, Luigi, 33. 

Rostand, 117. 

Rouanet, 312. 

Rousseau, 275. 

Roussin, in Jean Christophe, 176. 

Route en lacets qui monte, la, 330. 

St. Christophe, 157. 

Saint-Just, pseud., 39, 84, 101. 108. 

113, 126. 
Saint Louis, 77-8, 80-82, 83. 

125, 244. 
Salviati, 24. 

Saures, Andre, 14, 15, 39. i 

Scarlatti, Alessandro, 34. 
Schermann, 330. 
Scheurer, Kestner, 39, 115. 
Schiller, 73, 86, 87, 90, 92, 95, 97, 

100-1, 123, 155, 193, 196. 
Schubert, 175, 180. 
Schulz, Prof, in Jean Christophe, 

174, 204. 
Seippel, Paul, 50, 165, 172. 
Severine, 312. 
Shakespeare, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 18, 

23, 24, 15, 64, 69, 72, 92, 100, 

123, 125, 150. 
Sidonie, in Jean Christophe, 213. 
Siege de Mantoue, le, 73. 
Sorbonne, 32, 33. 
Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeu- 

nesse, 12. 
Spinoza, 10, 13, 18. 
Stendahl, 169, 177. 
Strauss, Hugo, 35. 
Strindberg, 2, 126 ff. g 

Struggle, element of, in RoUand's 

philosophy, 222, 246 ff. 
Suffering, significance of, in Rol- 

land's philosophy, 133-136, 181- 

7, 188-94; 204 ff; heroes of 

Switzerland, refuge of Rolland 

during the war, 264-7. 



"Tablettes, les" 313, 

70550, 118. 

Teulier, in The Wolves, 114, 115, 
121, 310. 

Theatre du peuple, le, see People's 

Thiesson, Gaston, 312. 

Tillier, Claude, 3. 

Tolstoi, 18, 20, 21, 23, 15, 24, 53, 
60, 64, 67, 82, 86, 87, 90, 92, 94, 
135, 138, 147-149, 151, 161, 165, 
170. 175, 176, 182, 204, 245, 255, 
265, 300, 317, 320, 333. 

To the Undying Antigone, 27. 

Tragedies de la foi, les, see Trag- 
edies of Faith. 

Tragedies of Faith, 69, 76-83, 76. 

"Tribunal of the spirit," see 

Triumph of Reason, The, 63, 101, 
102, 113, 114, 119. 

Trois Amoureuses, les, 173. 

Truth, in Liluli, 337. 

Unknown dramatic cycle, 71-75. 

Verhaeren, 44, 77, 175, 276, 311; 

Rolland's correspondence with, 

Vie de Beethoven, see Beethoven. 
Vie de Tolstoi, see Tolstoi. 

Vie de Michel-Ange, la, see Life of 

Michael Angela, The. 
Vie des hommes illustres, 301. 
Von Kf-rich, Frau, in ]ean Chris- 

tophc, 173, 204. 
Vf •! Meysenbug, Malwida, 26, 27, 

28, 29, 29-31, 73, 150, 162. 
Von Unruh, Fritz, 85. 
Vorreden Material im Nachlass, 

Vous etes des hommes, 312. 

Wagner, 2, 9, 10, 14, 26, 29, 30. 

31, 37, 64, 92, 162, 174, 212. 
Wahrheit und Dichtung, 175. 
War and Peace, 64, 170. 
War, dominant theme in Rolland's 

plays, 28; of the generations, 

229-234; in Rolland's writings, 

260 ff. 
Weber, Die, 92, 277. 
Weil, in Jean Christophe, 224. 
What is to be Done? 18. 
Wilhelm Meister, 155, 168. 
William the Silent, 66. 
Wilson, President, 348-50. 
Wolf, Hugo, 35, 150, 174. 
Wolff's news agency, 277. 
Wolves, The, 39, 101, 102, 113, 114. 

Zola, 15, 58, 85, 87, 39,91, 115, 177. 



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